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Heavy Munster influence on Irish Team
6 June 2003, 12:18 am
The selection of Anthony Horgan on the Ireland side for Friday s test against Samoa in Apia brings the Munster representation on the Ireland side to seven and eight in the starting squad
The selection of Anthony Horgan on the Ireland side for Friday s test against Samoa in Apia brings the Munster representation on the Ireland side to seven and eight in the starting squad with Donnacha O Callaghan on the bench.

It is a call up for Horgan that is well deserved and long delayed, the most recent setback coming this time last year when injury robbed him of a place in the Ireland squad that toured New Zealand. That injury was picked up just two days before he was due to play for Munster in the Heineken Cup final and perhaps more importantly from a Munster point of view it was an injury that put a big nail in the coffin of Munster s quest for European glory.

Horgan at the time was playing out of his skin, scored a cracking and crucial try against Stade Francais in the quarter final and outside of Mike Mullins, is the one Munster back who has pace to burn. Had he been available to the then coach Declan Kidney, there is the possibility that things might have been different.

In addition there is little doubt that the Cork Con speedster would have been capped on the New Zealand trip or in the autumn internationals but that chance was also removed when he had to undergo surgery to a troublesome shoulder which ruled him out of all competitive action for the start of this season. His return to action ended with a groin strain and it s only in recent months that he has received a clean bill of health resulting in inclusion for Friday s game.

And it will be a difficult arena in which to acquit himself. Temperatures will be in the 90s and Horgan and his teammates will find those conditions particularly energy sapping never mind whatever the very physical Samoans have in mind for them. On the positive side he will be surrounded by his Munster teammates, Mike Mullins on his right shoulder as is the case when they play with Munster, John Kelly on the opposite wing with Ronan O Gara orchestrating things from out-half. O Gara will probably play with his wrist heavily strapped having picked up an injury in the test against Tonga.

Marcus Horan and Alan Quinlan return to the squad with Paul O Connell retaining his place in the second row. But it s this area that must confuse Munster supporters. O Connell s partner for this game is once again the Blackrock lock Leo Cullen, with the dynamic Donnacha O Callaghan overlooked yet again although he does occupy a place on the bench. However this is unlikely to do anything for O Callaghan s morale never mind what it must be doing to his confidence.

Cullen has played 12 times for Ireland now and the Irish selectors must have a fairly solid idea of what he s about. But O Callaghan has played about 20 minutes of rugby at this level and it would surely have benefited the player himself and indeed those scrutinizing, to find out how he would shape up with the World Cup very much on their minds.

David Wallace must be having doubts about making this trip top the southern hemisphere. This is the second time inside a year that he has hauled himself out here only to spend his time in touristy role. This time last year he cut short a holiday in the States to join the Irish squad as cover when Eric Miller got injured. On that occasion he manned the tackle bags and nothing else and this time around he must be feeling a certain sense of d j vu, not managing even to make the bench for any of the three tests. Perhaps his turn and indeed O Callaghan s will come in the August internationals.

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