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Ireland v Scotland Six Nations: Rory Best backed to shake off injury ahead of Scots test

By Nick Purewal

Ireland captain Rory Best must prove his fitness tomorrow in order to face Scotland in Saturday's final RBS Six Nations encounter.

Ireland's most-capped hooker, who claimed his first victory as skipper at the fourth attempt against Italy last weekend, sat out training yesterday with a tight calf in what assistant coach Richie Murphy deemed a precautionary move.

The 33-year-old Ulsterman is expected to come through in time for the Aviva Stadium clash, with Cian Healy and Eoin Reddan also back.

Healy missed the 58-15 win over Italy with hamstring trouble while Reddan was sidelined with a calf problem, but both are now free to return to the squad.

Ireland's skills coach Murphy said: "Rory Best sat out of training. He trained on Monday and came off. He was a little tight in the calf at the end of training.

"It was judged not to train him and he should be ready to train on Thursday."

Murphy revealed Ireland's medical team expect 93-cap Best to be back to full fitness comfortably in time to take on Scotland.

When asked if Ireland's coaching staff had any concerns at all over Best's availability for the weekend, Murphy replied: "Not really; the medics feel like he should be fine and ready to go for Thursday."

Rob Kearney's absence with hamstring trouble hands Simon Zebo the opportunity to continue at full-back with Ireland desperate for victory to claw their way to a mid-table Six Nations finish.

The draw with Wales and defeats to France and England scuppered any chance of Ireland defending the title they had won for the previous two seasons.

The untroubled nine-try victory over Italy last weekend has set head coach Joe Schmidt's men back to winning ways, but Scotland will provide a far sterner examination this weekend.

Ireland could well field the same starting XV as against Italy, should Best come through his fitness worry, with the return of Leinster duo Healy and Reddan potentially bolstering resources from the bench.

"Eoin Reddan returned to training. Cian Healy trained as well," said Murphy. "Both guys are fit and ready for selection."

Conor Murray, meanwhile, has warned Ireland to avoid slipping into a false sense of security after the cakewalk victory over Italy.

Ireland thumped Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield to secure their second consecutive Six Nations crown last year, but Murray expects no repeat.

"Everyone's happy to have beaten Italy but you can be tricked into thinking this Six Nations will just fade out and we'll finish it well," said Murray.

"Scotland are going really well at the moment, and they'll be gunning for us after last year's result.

"They will be a well-oiled machine coming here and looking to do damage."

Belfast Telegraph


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