EDDIE O'SULLIVAN has quashed reports that Irish-qualified rugby league star Gary Connolly has been formally approached with a view to playing in the World Cup in Australia next year although the Ireland coach admitted he will be keeping an eye on Connolly s form.

The 31-year-old centre, who played his last rugby league test for Great Britain against New Zealand yesterday, is about to recommence a union career with Orrell and has expressed an interest in playing the 15-aside game at international level.

"It would be fantastic if it came off, he told a UK newspaper.

It s also understood that he was sounded out earlier in the year by Mike Ford, a former teammate on the GB side and now Ireland s defensive co-ordinator.

But O'Sullivan played down the connection."I'm well aware that Gary is eligible to play for Ireland and now that he's decided to play rugby union full-time, we ll be interested to see how he goes. No more than any other union, we're always on the look-out to see which league players are available and eligible. We'd be keeping an eye on Brian Carney at St Helen's, for example. But no formal approach has been made to Gary Connolly. There's no drama there.

The last time Connolly's name was mentioned in connection with Irish rugby was during his five-month spell with Harlequins during the 1996-97 season then Ireland coach Brian Ashton was interested, but Wigan refused to release him from his contract. Connolly was also in Ireland s squad for the 2000 rugby league World Cup.