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Andrew Trimble's Ireland World Cup destiny in his hands

Andrew will get a final chance to seal spot in Irish World Cup squad

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Published 26/08/2015

Fighting fit: Andrew Trimble, pictured in training yesterday, is set to start Ireland’s final World Cup warm-up game against Wales
Fighting fit: Andrew Trimble, pictured in training yesterday, is set to start Ireland’s final World Cup warm-up game against Wales

At around 5.30pm on Saturday, Joe Schmidt will finish the last of his media engagements at the Aviva Stadium and the real business will begin.

Over the following 24 hours, he and his coaches will dissect the footage of Ireland's game against Wales as well as Leinster, Ulster and Munster's pre-season performances on Friday before gathering in one room to pick the 31-man squad that will take on the world.

On Sunday afternoon, the conversations with players begin as the coach delivers the good or bad news, before submitting the squad to the World Cup organisers. The general public will find out sometime early in the week.

There are two training sessions and one match left to make an impression and assistant coach Les Kiss says the coaching staff remain open-minded to good performances, but the window is narrowing.

"We will arrange a meeting," Kiss explained. "We'll have (some) players playing for the provinces, that's their opportunity as well, we'll get a lot of vision from the provincial games during that Saturday, then we'll watch the (Wales) game and get the vision afterwards and we won't get much sleep. We'll trawl through it.

"Usually the process is we get together and there's no agenda set, we just get in there and we talk away, because that type of meeting, you don't need an agenda, you know what it's about, going through each position and combinations.

"There are some fairly tough decisions, important decisions, not only from the rugby perspective but the individual - it's a tough thing to tell a guy that he's not going to be involved."

Kiss says the increase in training intensity has been marked from week to week, but acknowledged that the nervous tension has increased.

"It's going to be natural that people are thinking, 'What's going to be the squad on Sunday' and 'what's going to be released on Monday'," he said. "That's just human nature, that you feel a bit anxious but we're trying to make sure that we keep our lines in check."

As to who will get a chance to impress on Saturday, it appears likely that some of the big guns previously wrapped in cotton wool might be given their first run-out with Robbie Henshaw, Peter O'Mahony, Conor Murray and Jonny Sexton set for a start, while Ulster's Andrew Trimble also looks likely to start as he looks to prove his fitness.

"Andrew Trimble has come up really good, he trained fully so he's fit to go," said Kiss.

"We know what Trimby has delivered in the past. It's a tight position in the back three."

However, Cian Healy remains on the recovery trail while Marty Moore's absence from training with his ongoing foot complaint is likely to keep him on the sidelines for another week, offering Nathan White another chance.

"One thing Nathan has done is got fit," Kiss said. "He is in good fettle so has put himself in a place where we are taking notice at what he is delivering.

"Marty has lost an opportunity, without a doubt, but we also know what he has done for us and we don't take those things lightly.

"It is whether they are ready to deliver it in the next two to four weeks because they need to be up to the plate there and then."

Australia's decision to select just two specialist scrum-halves has opened up the idea that Ian Madigan could be deployed as a third choice No 9 to free up spaces further out the backline, but while Kiss said the Leinster star has done some training in that position, he played down the idea.

"You would have to look at that as an option if you lose your two half-backs," he said. "He is one of those guys who, if he is around in the team, can cover that. But it has not been a major part of our plans."

Belfast Telegraph

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