Monday 20 November 2017

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Ireland ready for South Africa test

Thursday, 9th November, 2017 9:16am

Ireland will welcome South Africa this Saturday for the first of three matches for the Autumn Guinness Series.

Ireland last faced South Africa for three test games in June 2016, two of which they lost. Discussing this Saturday's games, Conor Murray said there is an excitement in the squad as they prepare to face one of the best teams in the world.

“We've made a few strides forward this week, especially with a lot of new lads coming in to the squad; a lot of lads that weren't on the summer tour. We're just linking back up and getting an understanding going again, so we're working hard.

“It's definitely a challenge, there's a new feel to the squad and a lot of new faces and a few guys reintegrating back in to the squad so it's good, it's kind of exciting. A lot of lads are going to get their first opportunity to put on their Irish shirt, a lot of lads haven't put it on in a while. There's a buzz about camp, the fact that we haven't been together in a while, there's a freshness which is exciting for the year to come and obviously this series,” he said.

Murray, however, said the team is well aware of the challenge they face. “It's massive. They've been making strides forward like we're trying to do now and they're battled hardened which is definitely a challenge for us, that's why we've got to work really hard this week and last week with our week of prep before game week.

“There's a lot of work to be done, they'll pose a massive challenge and they've got world class players all over the park. That's part of the excitement, you want to play against the best teams in the world and a full Aviva is a great challenge for us to do it.”

On the injury front, team manager Simon Easterby confirmed that Tommy O'Donnell is to have a scan this week on a shoulder injury. “Tommy O'Donnell picked up a bit of a shoulder bump in training yesterday so he's due to have a scan. Jack Conan sat out training, he just had a heavy workload and Dan Leavy had a bit of tightness in his hamstring, obviously he played at the weekend. Again it's just managing his workload. It's just about being sensible and earmarking players who may have potential weaknesses. If you know about things, at least you can prepare for that and not take any unnecessary risks,” he said.

Meanwhile the Government has reaffirmed its commitment to Ireland's bid to host Rugby World Cup 2023 and in a statement said: “The Government continues to believe that Ireland is the best choice for hosting RWC 2023 and is deserving of the support of the voters on the World Rugby Council.

“Along with the Irish Rugby Football Union, and the Bid Oversight Board, the Government will continue to make the case for the Irish bid until the final vote takes place on Wednesday 15 November.”

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