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Ireland's call for support


Irish rugby fans have been urged to come out in force to see the next generation of stars at Thomond Park this evening.

Only 14,500 tickets have been sold for the clash with Fiji in which a trio of Ulster youngsters will make their international debuts -- Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson.

But assistant coach Les Kiss is encouraging Limerick's passionate rugby following to come out and support an Irish side reeling from its worst losing run in 14 years of professionalism.

"It's a real good opportunity to come out and see young guys pull on a green jersey and you'd like to think they'll acquit themselves well so that they can wear it again more often," says Kiss.

Ireland cannot alter their five-game losing streak - during which they have conceded a whopping 170 points -- as this is a non-test match with no caps awarded, but they are, nonetheless, desperate to win.

"We need to get that win and we know that. It's as serious as that for us. We want to get that win, because we know that if we just get through that, the players will just gain a bit of momentum."

Connacht's Mike McCarthy will replace utility forward Donnacha Ryan on the replacements bench after the Munster man was ruled out of the game because of 'flu. Tickets will be on sale at the ground until kick-off.

Meanwhile, there was some good news for Leinster as Sean O'Brien and Luke Fitzgerald could return to action next Friday.

"It's a good feeling being able to see the wood for the trees," said O'Brien, as the Blues prepare for two make-or-break clashes with Clermont Auvergne in the Heineken Cup next month.

"All things going well, I hope to make either the Glasgow game (November 23) or the Zebre game (December 1) in the RDS the following week."

A minute's silence will be held as a tribute to former Fijian international Maleli Kunavore who died yesterday aged just 29. The former Toulouse star was on the side defeated by Munster in the 2008 Heineken Cup final.

Irish Independent