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Italy v Ireland Six Nations: Sweat on as bug floors skipper Rory Best

Jonathan Bradley in Rome

Ireland are bracing themselves for the possibility that influential captain Rory Best could miss his first Six Nations game in over 10 years today.

Joe Schmidt's men face Italy in Rome (2.25pm kick-off) this afternoon but key cog Best was yesterday absent from his customary pre-match media duties with a stomach upset.

While Ireland management have said they are confident the 34-year-old will still take the field, Leinster's James Tracy has been flown out to join the squad as emergency cover.

"He had a bit of a stomach upset overnight and he didn't sleep particularly well," said coach Simon Easterby.

"It's just one of those things that you can't prepare for.

"We thought the best course of action was to leave him back in the hotel while we did our team run. He's hopefully going to be okay with plenty of sleep."

After losing 27-22 to Scotland in Edinburgh last weekend, Ireland can't afford a slip-up in the Stadio Olimpico.

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