Tuesday 23 January 2018

Ireland fret over Rory Best ahead of Italy clash after skipper misses Captain's Run

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Rome

Ireland are confident that captain Rory Best will be available to face Italy tomorrow despite him missing his Captain’s Run session at the Stadio Olimpico.

The Ulsterman picked up a stomach bug overnight and the management decided to fly Leinster’s James Tracy to Rome as a precaution.

However, forwards coach Simon Easterby is predicting that the 33-year-old will be fit although he has full confidence in Munster’s Niall Scannell if he has to stand in and make his debut against Italy.

Vice captain Jamie Heaslip will lead the team if Best fails to make it.

“Rory Best got a bit of stomach upset overnight, he didn’t sleep very well. Left him in hotel to get some extra sleep,” Easterby said.

“Yeah, we’re confident. It's the best course of action to leave him at the hotel, but hopefully he’ll be OK.

“Niall wouldn’t be in the squad if we weren’t confident that he couldn’t transform his Munster form.

“That’s why he’s in the bench, he’s been really good form and all of the players have to be ready to start if needed and we’d be confident that he can step up when asked.”

Heaslip said he would have no problem stepping up.

“No issue at all, something similar happened with Pauly (against Scotland) a few years ago, so no problem,” he said.

“You don’t want your captain to miss the Captain’s Run, ideally, but the boys will get on with the job in hand and that’s what we did.”

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