10 Dec, 10:30
The IRFU and Munster are pleased to announce that Conor Murray has signed a new two year contract with the IRFU which will see him remain at Munster until at least June 2016.
See below for quotes from Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll as the build-up continues towards the final Test match of the Guinness Autumn Series.
- ON LUKE FITZGERALD -
"I think, in terms of knowing someone's footballing ability, seeing their soccer skills is always a good tell-tale sign. I've never seen a guy with better soccer skills - well maybe Maradona - than Luke Fitzgerald.
"It's phenomenal the little tricks he does before training, he'd put you to shame! And I think that does reflect into his rugby playing ability. He's very confident and equally good passing off both sides.
It's a massively exciting time for Luke. The guy has only just turned 19 and he finds himself given a chance in a Test match. It's fully deserved, given his form this year. You would just never think the guy is still a teenager.
"He plays very well, has a great attitude and is far more mature than you expect from a 19-year-old. Even in this professional era, he goes further than the distance required. Invariably he's trying to kick off either foot, turning up early for training and leaving training late."
- ON JAMIE HEASLIP -
"Jamie could have been capped beforehand. He had a big season for Leinster last season but he's been given his opportunity now. This year again, he's been a real talisman for Leinster and he's fully justified his call-up. He gives you great go-forward ball and he's an incredibly explosive runner.
"I guess, from a Leinster perspective, there was always a real worry when Victor Costello retired that there was going to be a real void there at number eight, but Jamie came in and plugged that hole immediately.
"He has a good football brain and he's got plenty of strings to his bow. He's also a very likeable and exuberant character and he's good to have around the squad."
- ON STEPHEN FERRIS -
"Obviously, I don't know as much about Stephen Ferris as the other guys but from what I've seen in training and also playing against Ulster, I can't believe the guy is only 21.
"Paul O'Connell came back from the gym yesterday (Tuesday) and said: 'did anyone see the weights that that fella Ferris was lifting in the gym?'
"He was lifting some phenomenal weights. That just shows that the guy has really put in the work. That stuff doesn't just happen overnight. He's an excellent professional and obviously started quite young.
"Even at training he's got a great attitude. He seems quite vocal which is great because it's unusual for a young guy like that to be as vocal as he is.
"But he seems to have all the skills as well. So these are very exciting times, to have this wealth of talent, particularly in the back row, is fantastic for us."
"For a while, Paddy has been a nearly man. I played Under-19s with him and he was a massive talent back then but it never quite really happened for him.
"Now he has shown great form for Ulster, he got capped against the Springboks and he should benefit from that. There is huge responsibility on the likes of myself, Shane Horgan and obviously Peter Stringer to help him out - to use our experience to help him through.
"Paddy is naturally talented, a lovely passer, great off either foot and if he gets to concentrate on his own game, then he is capable of having a great performance."
- ON HIS OWN TEST DEBUT -
"I remember thinking that it was a big ask to play against the likes of Tim Horan and Daniel Herbert, but it was a great occasion (against Australia in 1999). The thing is that the first time playing for your country always seems to fly by - the experience is over almost as soon as it began, so you hope that you can do something that helps your side in the process."
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