18 May, 11:09
IRFU Chief Executive Philip Browne has issued a statement following confirmation of Ronan O'Gara's decision to retire from playing professional rugby.
Pictured above: Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll ties his laces during training at St. Gerard's today. O'Driscoll will skipper his country for the 26th time against Scotland on Saturday - he famously scored a hat-trick of tries in the 2002 6 Nations win over the Scots at Lansdowne Road.
Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan shares a joke with Ulster youngster Andrew Trimble, who is set for his fifth cap on Saturday after retaining his left wing berth from the side that beat Wales.
Munster lock Paul O'Connell faces a fitness test on Thursday to confirm his availability for Saturday's RBS 6 Nations fixture with Scotland. Coach Eddie O'Sullivan has left the two second row berths in the Irish team, as well as the one on the replacements bench, vacant with O'Connell, Malcolm O'Kelly, Donncha O'Callaghan and Mick O'Driscoll all vying for a start.
Speaking at today's press conference in the Killiney Castle Hotel, O'Sullivan said of his second row options: "There was no point in calling it today when we've another two days to work with. But at the same time, I do want to make the decision on Thursday so that they guys who may or may not be playing will know where they stand."
O'Sullivan added on the state of O'Connell's left shoulder: "At the moment, I'd say it's probably 50-50, but how it progresses over the next 48 hours will make the decision for us.
"Paul's got a bang on his shoulder - an AC separation. It's not a serious injury, but it is one of those that just lingers on. There have been days when he's made great headway with it and we've been very optimistic - porbably too optimistic - but then he'd have a setback and he'd be very sore for a couple of days.
"If he doesn't play in the game against Scotland, I'd be very confident that he'd play against England. He trained today and he's in good form, but we're being careful with how much work he does so we took him out early. We need the extra 48 hours to make the right decision, but hopefully, he will come through."
The all-Munster front row of John Hayes, Jerry Flannery and Marcus Horan will start for Ireland against Scotland. Hayes, Flannery and Horan, who has recovered from the neck injury he sustained against Wales, boast 99 Tests caps between them.
Paul O'Connell, far right, watches on as Ireland's forwards get in some scrummaging practice.
Munster scrum half Peter Stringer, who will make his 65th appearance in green on Saturday, fires out a pass at training.
**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**