10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
BRIAN O'DRISCOLL QUOTES:
- ON THE PROSPECT OF BEATING NEW ZEALAND -
"It would be another notch, that's all. Sure it would be a huge thing to go down there and turn them over but you can't go over the top on these things. Realistically, you have to be on top of your game to beat them anywhere, but to beat them in the cauldron that's New Zealand - it's the toughest place in the world I've ever played Test rugby - it would be enormous.
"But you really only think about things like that after you've done it."
- ON THE TOUR'S SCHEDULING -
"I think you could take the view that we need a break. But alternatively, you could take the view that we've won a huge amount, so why not push ourselves one step further and go and do something that no other Irish side has done in New Zealand - win a Test match?
"These tours are organised years in advance, so it's not a case of it being sprung on us. We've known about it for the whole season.
"A lot of the boys are feeling fresh - if you saw training yesterday and today, people are really in good form. Munster and Ulster's successes have rubbed off on the rest of the squad and the boys are really looking forward to going down there and having a real crack at New Zealand."
- ON THE TOUR POSITIVES -
"National teams invariably have more continuity. They've been together for longer, they know each other better and they tend to represent each other a little better than touring sides like the Lions.
"So hopefully we'll bring the success of the Triple Crown - and the unity that that success produced - with us on tour and give it our best shot. I don't see a better time to go down and turn over the Kiwis than this opportunity because of the success we've achieved this year.
"We've got a great balance, a lot of experience but some exciting young players, guys who are starting to prove themselves. Denis Leamy has had a phenomenal season, Jerry Flannery also, Andrew Trimble played well in the Six Nations, and when you see the likes of those players coming through, you must have faith in Irish rugby for the next few years."
- ON BEING UNDERDOGS -
"I think that suits us fine. We've become a team that has to deal with whatever tag we're given, be it favourites or underdogs. What we do know is that when this Irish team performs, we're capable of beating anyone in the world - it's just a matter of making sure that performance becomes consistent.
"Sometimes you go to a place like New Zealand, you may need them to slightly under-perform, capitalise on that, but if we perform to the highest levels we know we're capable of, we're not going to be far away from a win down there."