Scannell ready to answer Ireland's call
Niall Scannell is on stand-by make his Ireland debut from the start of today's Six Nations clash with Italy in Rome after Rory Best came down with a stomach bug on the eve of the game.
The skipper remained in isolation at the team hotel as Jamie Heaslip led yesterday's Captain's Run and a decision on his participation will be made this morning.
Ireland have flown Leinster hooker James Tracy to the Italian capital and he will come on to the bench if Best fails to make it, with Heaslip set to captain the side in the Ulsterman's absence.
Best came down with his illness on arrival from Dublin on Thursday evening and was too sick to travel to the Stadio Olimpico with his team-mates yesterday.
Forwards coach Simon Easterby remained upbeat on his prospects of being fit enough to play this afternoon, but he also expressed confident in Scannell's ability to cope if he is called on.
"Rory has been put into his own bedroom in a bit of isolation, he's fortunate that as captain that he does receive his own room," Easterby said.
"As far as we know it's not contagious and the doctor is covering everything off and making sure that we get to the bottom of it. But hopefully everything clears up in the next few hours and he can get some much needed rest.
"Whenever you come into a new environment, sometimes it takes a little longer to adjust, and to integrate yourself but Niall has fitted in really well."