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George Best's 'cousin' out to hog the headlines

By Niall Crozier

Ireland's defence coach Les Kiss walked into Carton House's Duchess Room clutching a print-out of the just-released Scotland line-up for Sunday's RBS 6 Nations clash at the Aviva Stadium with much to ponder.

"It's an interesting team," he mused.

And of particular interest to him was a man with family links to one of our favourite sons – George Best – who will look to put those hip-swerving, twinkle-toed genes to good use on Sunday.

Stuart Hogg, who found out a few years ago that he is a distant relation of the former Manchester United and Northern Ireland legend, will line out at full-back for the Scots and has been labelled by Kiss as "lethal".

Kiss, the man tasked with formulating a plan to deal with the Glasgow Warriors ace, has also warned that the Scots, massive underdogs for the clash in Dublin, have the attacking flair elsewhere to cause Ireland problems.

"Their whole back-three is dangerous, and Hogg is back into form," said Kiss.

"We know he's a very dangerous player, particularly when he changes the direction of the game or if you kick loosely to him, because his counter-attack is lethal.

"And when you've got Sean Lamont and Sean Maitland working off him it makes him even more lethal. So there are some challenges there, but the one smart thing they do have, Hogg can also kick the ball long.

"So if you over-commit on kick chase and they suddenly kick at you, you're under pressure.

"The back-three is a deadly mix there, but also very smart, so we just have to be very cute about how we play them."

As Kiss waxed lyrical about the Scotland team, it took him rather longer to reveal that Ireland have two players in the highly doubtful category.

Mike McCarthy has not been able to participate fully in training, Ospreys' Welsh lock Ian Evans having stamped on the Leinster lock's head in their Heineken Cup round six clash, earning himself instant dismissal and a subsequent 12-weeks ban. McCarthy's injury required 23 stitches.

Scrum-half Eoin Reddan has a calf injury and Ireland have recalled his Leinster team-mate Isaac Boss, the man of the match in last weekend's O2 Wolfhounds victory over England Saxons.

"We'll find out more at the end of the week; probably be unlikely, but we just don't want to make any call now," was Kiss's synopsis on Reddan who will be given every opportunity to prove himself fit.

His diagnosis of the Scottish team was: "We've done homework on all of them, just now we can focus a bit more specifically."

Expect a man with Belfast links to hog quite a lot of that focus.

Belfast Telegraph


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