Horan faces stern Tartan test
IT'S exam time all round for Ireland's packs this weekend.
While the Italians will give the senior side a stern test in Croke Park, the recently rebranded Wolfhounds pack down against a fine Scottish front row in Jon Welsh, Dougie Hall and Euan Murray in Ravenhill tonight (7.30).
Welsh is one of the most exciting prop prospects around, Murray is a Lions tourist whose religious beliefs rule him out of playing on Sunday, while Hall has made 31 appearances for the full side since 2003.
In fact, the Scottish squad boast a total of 228 senior appearances between them along with five uncapped players while Ireland are out to prove a point after defeat to the England Saxons last weekend. The scrum suffered in The Rec last week and all eyes will be on Marcus Horan, who jumps from the frying pan to the fire in the quality of his opposition in his bid to reclaim match fitness.
Along with hooker Sean Cronin and Tony Buckley, the Irish front row have a mix of proven quality and potential but another bad day at the office could see Mike Ross spring from the bench sooner than expected.
In the backs, Johne Murphy plays on the wing while Fergus McFadden forms an exciting midfield partnership with Darren Cave. Ian Humphreys starts at out-half as Paddy Wallace is on senior duty, with Wolfhounds captain Chris Henry out to set the record straight after last week.
"There is a good mix of experience of youth so there is plenty of craic at training and in camp," Henry said. "Last week was a bit of a blip and now we just want to get it back on track."
- Munster have extended the contracts of forwards coach Laurie Fisher, backs coach Jason Holland and manager Shaun Payne following on from December's contract extension for head coach Tony McGahan.