5 Dec, 14:49
The Ireland Under-19 squad to face Australia Schools at Ravenhill on Saturday week (December 14) has been announced.
Ireland's players and management staff are pictured at the launch of the IRFU/O2 Ireland sponsorship agreement in Limerick.
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll fields questions from the press at the announcement. Asked about the summer tour's scheduling after a long, hard season, the 27-year-old said: "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, and why not push ourselves one step further and go and do something that no other Irish side has done in New Zealand before - 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.
"As a squad, we're feeling fresh and training today went very well."
IRFU President Andy Crawford at the Limerick launch.
Smiles all round as O2 Ireland CEO Danuta Gray, IRFU President Andy Crawford and Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll pose for photographers.
Asked if he is worried about his side being heavily beaten in New Zealand like the British & Irish Lions were last summer, O'Driscoll joked: "Well the fact that Eddie isn't bringing 75 people down there is probably in our favour!
"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 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."
Being underdogs on this tour is something that will sit easy with O'Driscoll. The Dubliner admitted: "I think being underdogs will suit us fine. We've become a team that have become comfortable 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 any team in the world - we just have to work on doing that on a consistent basis. Sometimes, when you go down to places like New Zealand, you need them to under-perform and then capitalise on that.
"But if we reach the heights we're capable of reaching, I don't see any reason why we can't pick up a victory on this tour."
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**