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Rugby World Cup: Best hails Healy boost as Ireland's opener against Canada looms

By Jonathan Bradley

Rory Best has hailed the return to fitness of Cian Healy ahead of Ireland's World Cup opener against Canada this weekend.

The Leinster loosehead prop hasn't played since May after undergoing neck surgery but he is available to win his 52nd cap at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday (2.30pm) and Best believes the 27-year-old's comeback will provide a significant boost to the squad.

"Cian Healy is a world-class player and he has made an unbelievable recovery," said the Ulster skipper. "But we know that about him, he has a tendency to come back really quickly and just to have that capability within your squad is important.

"We're very lucky to have Jack McGrath and Cian who are both fantastic looseheads, and you saw Jack really coming to the fore in the last Six Nations.

"That's put pressure on Cian and you can see the way he's responded, and the way he's come back this summer, he's hungrier than ever to come back in and to try to get that starting spot back.

"He will be desperate to establish himself again as the world-class player that he is."

With bigger tests in their pool to come against Italy and finally France, Ireland team manager Mick Kearney is thrilled to see Healy return in the nick of time.

"He worked incredibly hard over the course of the three or four months," he said.

"I suppose there was a degree of pessimism about him for a while, but certainly towards the end of August that all turned good and he's been really flying and in great form since then.

"I think it would be great to see him get some game time at the weekend."

There was more positive news emanating from Ireland's Carton House base yesterday with Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton and Simon Zebo all confirmed to have overcome knocks picked up against England two weeks ago while Rob Kearney is showing no ill-effects following a knee complaint.

"The 31-man squad are all fit and available for selection against Canada," added Kearney.

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