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Ireland 00:00 South Africa

O'Sullivan refutes homer claims

By Ben Blackmore.   Last Updated: 22/11/05 3:37pm

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Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan has adamantly refuted suggestions that his squad selections are favouring those players that ply their trade on Irish shores.

The criticism has reared its head over recent weeks, with Bob Casey of London Irish the main case in point for the prosecution.

The second row has been in fine form for his club, and O'Sullivan's constant decision to overlook him has been met with disapproval - not least from Exiles boss Brian Smith who claimed that the Irish supremo had not even been to watch his man.

However, O'Sullivan insists that Casey himself is fully aware of the current situation, and the Ireland coach is content with the working relationship that he holds with his players.

"Selection is based on who the best players are and the form they are in. People are saying Bob is the best player in the Premiership, but that's a point of discussion," commented the 45-year-old.

"Everyone is considered. I think it's unfair to pick a guy like Bob Casey and make a case as to why he should be in the team. Bob's not far off - he's in the hopper like a lot of locks are.

"It's untrue to say we haven't seen him because we have and we get video tapes of the matches we don't get to. I can tell you what he did in all his games going into the autumn internationals.

"I spoke to Bob about his non-selection for the autumn and explained to him where he needed to improve. I do that for all the players. Bob knows where he stands.

"I wouldn't like to give the impression certain players are exiled and that's it. I'm happy to pick from abroad - look at Simon Easterby, Geordan Murphy or Johnny O'Connor."

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