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Earls sure backs will come to fore in clash with Russia

KEITH Earls insists Ireland's backline are ready to explode into life when they face Russia in Rotorua on Sunday.

On their day, the Irish three-quarters can be as dangerous as any in the game, but they have yet to set the World Cup alight during their two pool games against the USA and Australia.

Heavy rain put a dent in ambitions against the United States, while the pack did such a comprehensive job in crushing the Wallabies that there was little need to involve the backs.

But Earls has revealed they are hoping to become more involved against the Russians.

"It's fair to say we haven't seen the best of us and that's down to conditions and playing the right territory on the pitch," he said.

"Against America, the weather wasn't great and it wasn't a day for flashing the ball around, so we kept it quite tight.

"Against Australia, there wasn't a need to throw it around the backs because the forwards were playing so well.

"You'll see a lot more from our backline, hopefully starting from this weekend. If we get good weather hopefully we'll spread the ball around."

After performing heroics in Saturday's 15-6 victory over Tri-Nations champions Australia, facing minnows Russia will be something of a comedown for Ireland.

Hooker Rory Best, however, insists it is crucial they maintain the standards they set at Eden Park last weekend.

"It was a great performance against the Wallabies but the important thing now is that the effort we put in on Saturday doesn't go unrewarded," the Ulster hooker said.

"A big way to reward that is to win our next two games and make sure we top our pool and get into the quarter-finals."

Winger Tommy Bowe suffered a bump on his calf against Australia and was set to undergo a scan today.

Paul O'Connell and Gordon D'Arcy are continuing to receive treatment on their hamstring injuries, while Stephen Ferris sat out training today in order to manage his workload.