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Best beats his injury battle

IRELAND will enter their World Cup quarter-final against Wales with Rory Best at hooker after the Ulster front row won his injury battle.

Best has been passed fit after receiving intensive treatment on the shoulder problem sustained in the 36-6 win against Italy last Sunday and will start tomorrow's clash at the Wellington Regional Stadium.

"Rory's come up great and is fine to start the game," said Ireland defence coach Les Kiss.

"We obviously had some precautions in place ready to cover him if he failed to pull through, but he's in tip-top shape so full credit to him and the medics."

"I think Rossy's (Mike Ross) got a man-crush on him up in the front row," quipped Jamie Heaslip, with the tighthead prop sitting next to him at the team's media conference.

Heaslip went on from there. After the prop was asked about the support the team had received in New Zealand, the number eight retorted: "You're saying Ross has an individual fan base?"

The 27-year-old also laughed when another journalist asked as to how much the prize pool was now worth for the amount of times the team said "ding-dong battle" in their media conferences.

"It's 'ding dong battle'. (Coach) 'Declan (Kidney) for president' and 'miaow'. So I hope you get all those in there," added Heaslip, detailing the set phrases the team had agreed to try to work into their answers.

Ireland, unbeaten throughout this Rugby World Cup, are rated marginal favourites to win the first of the day's two quarter-finals.

Both sides have been in superb form and if the weather holds -- some rain is expected -- it promises to be a gripping encounter between the Six Nations rivals.

"This game is absolutely massive for both teams," said Kiss. "We spoke earlier about what it would mean to people back home if we won.

"We want to reach a place we've never been before. We've played each other so much that it's 50-50.

"There will be critical pressure moments and it will be a 60 minutes plus game. The last 20 minutes will sort it out.

"It's a hard one to pick. There's been a lot of talk about the South Africa and Australia quarter being the game of the round, but watch this game.

"It's going to a real ding-dong battle but we're happy with the way our defence has gone.

"Wales have some interesting threats across the park, which are a little bit different to what Australia offered when we played them in the pool.

"They have a good bunch of guys who are playing good rugby."

Number eight Heaslip believes Ireland's superior experience of knockout games through the success of Munster and Leinster in the Heineken Cup must be brought to bear.

"We have the experience of playing against Wales every year in the Six Nations, but all bets are off in a knockout competition," said Heaslip.

"Sometimes it's not the best team that wins, it's the team who knows how to win that succeeds.

"We have to draw on the experience of playing at knockout stages of the Heineken Cup.

"We've (Irish provinces) won four of the last six Heineken Cups and it's important to make that experience count. The core of the team are made up of those players."