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Cave ready to prove himself - Kiss


Darren Cave has been called up by Ireland

Darren Cave has been called up by Ireland

Darren Cave has been called up by Ireland

Darren Cave is ready for Test rugby against Georgia on Sunday despite spending last week on holiday in New York, according to Ireland coach Les Kiss.

Cave swapped the Big Apple for Ireland's Carton House training base after a last-minute call from boss Joe Schmidt this week, despite being overlooked for the initial 37-man autumn Test squad.

The 27-year-old has slipped down Ulster's midfield pecking order behind Jared Payne this term, crucially while Kiss was seconded to Ravenhill as interim rugby director.

The seven-cap centre has admitted he must "stop complaining and start playing well" after last year moaning that his "face doesn't fit" in the Ireland set-up.

Even though Kiss had preferred Payne at 13 in his short Ulster tenure this term, Ireland's Australian defence coach still backed Cave to shine against Georgia in Dublin.

"It is an opportunity for Darren, it's an opportunity for a lot of people - but the opportunity is to be in the squad for next week," said Kiss.

"Cavey hasn't had a lot of minutes, but he's got a chance to start now: all the guys in camp talk about their mates that have had a bit of a break.

"They are all hoping for a call-up at some stage, and they are all ready to hop on a plane and come back.

"Cavey's one of those guys who has an opportunity tomorrow along with a lot of other guys, we've got two debutants and potentially one more on the bench.

"There are some special moments around, with Eoin as captain too, but they will only come together if we forge together as a team and really respect the challenge in front of us.

"If our guys take their eyes off the ball, they won't do themselves any favours."

Ireland have made 13 changes from the side that subdued world number two side South Africa 29-15 in Dublin last week.

Only Mike Ross and Simon Zebo have been retained for the clash against the world's 15th-ranked outfit, coached by New Zealander Milton Haig and former Connacht boss Michael Bradley.

Former New Zealand Under-21 centre Payne is still recovering from a foot sprain, but would not have featured even if fit.

Kiss warned Ireland's much-changed squad that places are up for grabs for the autumn's final clash against Australia - but only if pivotal performances are delivered against Georgia.

"We've made some changes, we've got our reasons behind that and they are many-fold," said Kiss.

"The pure fact of the matter we've got 15 guys to start and others coming off the bench who have a great opportunity.

"We rate that highly, and people will deliver.

"Their opportunity isn't about anything distant in the future, it's about what they can do in each minute of the game, so that we can say, 'yeah, you're worthy to be in that squad for next week'.

"If they get too unfocused they will lose their way.

"Next week might be what they are aiming for, but that will only happen if they nail what's in front of them tomorrow."

Fit-again Gordon D'Arcy is the only survivor from the Rugby World Cup scare against Georgia in 2007, when the Lelos pushed Ireland hard despite eventual 14-10 defeat.

Kiss conceded that close-run clash has been raised this week to serve as a cautionary tale, but said Ireland will refuse to let it define preparations.

"It's been reflected on in terms of ensuring we know it's a team we have history with," said Kiss.

"The truth is we reflect on what they've done more recently, and in recent times they've been an effective team and they have had a lot of victories under this coach.

"They will be confident in how they go about their game, and they have expanded their game.

"No one gave them a chance against Samoa last year but they won.

"And even last week in defeat against Tonga they made it a dogfight for the most part."

PA Media