23 May, 12:21
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
Pictured above: Coaches Eddie O'Sullivan and Niall O'Donovan watch on as the Irish squad train on the back pitch at Lansdowne Road ahead of the final Test match of the Guinness Autumn Series.
O'Sullivan is looking forward to giving the old stadium at Lansdowne a big send-off before the ground's redevelopment begins next year. He said: "Obviously it's the last game at Lansdowne Road - there's a bit of nostalgia there for everyone.
"There are some great memories for everybody. But it would be great on Sunday to go out with a win. The plan is to do that anyway and I think the team is there to do it."
Ireland's athletic trainer Brian Green tends to Leinster winger Shane Horgan. The Drogheda man, 28, missed the 2003 summer tour when Ireland played Samoa and Tonga but he was a starter when Ireland played Fiji at Lansdowned Road in November 2002.
Stepping in for Gordon D'Arcy, Horgan will be playing at centre for Ireland for the tenth time this weekend. The rest of his 50 caps have come as a winger - he was used as a replacement on just one occasion against South Africa in November 2000.
Ulster hooker Rory Best gets a pass away in training. Best is back on the replacements bench for Sunday's Test against the Pacific Islanders, having started Ireland's wins over South Africa and Australia.
O'Sullivan is happy for the clash with the Islanders to be going ahead. "I think the IRB have recognised that Samoa, Fiji and Tonga have a huge part to play in the World Cup," said the Corkman.
"When the professional era came in, New Zealand and Australia started grabbing all their players. They need this kind of exposure to top-flight rugby to help them learn and to take back to their own individual teams."
Luke Fitzgerald takes on Simon Easterby and Bryan Young during Friday's training session. The 19-year-old Dubliner only made his Leinster debut in September and just over two months on, he will be making his senior bow for Ireland.
O'Sullivan reckons debutants Fitzgerald, Stephen Ferris and Jamie Heaslip have merited their selections. He admitted: "Luke, Stephen and Jamie have plied their trade at the highest level in tight positions in good squads.
"If you're going to change a team you need to stick to form and this is a form selection. It's a good opportunity to push the squad out further."
Newcomer Jamie Heaslip produces a good hit on experienced Llanelli flanker Simon Easterby. Heaslip, 22, cannot wait to pull on an Ireland jersey for the first time this Sunday. He said of his Test debut: "It's a chance to show my trade and hopefully I can impress a few people.
"Getting the ball in my hands would be a big thing for me, with the support of the home crowd behind us. I am used to it with Leinster because I have played at Lansdowne a good few times with them."
Gordon D'Arcy, who is on the replacements bench for Sunday, tries to halt the progress of debutant Luke Fitzgerald during training. Skills coach Brian McLaughlin has vowed that Ireland will play "the continuity game, look for the space, and if we have to go in and clean, we'll go in as fast as we can to give us quick ball." The Islanders will provide tough opposition and McLaughlin added: "The scenario doesn't change no matter who you're playing."
Paddy Wallace, ahead of his first start as Ireland's out-half, gets in some tacklebag work with his Ulster team-mate Rory Best. It has taken four years for Wallace, who was first named in an Irish squad in 2002, to get capped but he is determined to become a fixture in the 22.
He said: "Having got the cap against South Africa, that's a weight off my shoulders because everybody wants to play for their country. Having got that monkey off my back, it gives you more of a hunger to take it to the next level.
"I've got a real taste for this (international rugby) now, I don't just want a couple of caps beside my name. Sunday is going to be a big test for me but it's one I'm relishing."
Bryan Young tries to run past lock Donncha O'Callaghan at training. The Ulster prop is still finding his feet at international level and is learning all the time. He said of his first start against Australia: "The pace went up from what I was used to before against Australia (last week) but I was well equipped for that.
"I thought that I got around quite well and I was reading the game well. As far as I was concerned I thought I did alright. There's no restbite really, you just have to keep working hard - and if you don't work hard you're going to be targeted, that is where the opposition are going to go and make a linebreak. When you're in the scrum, you just can't switch off at all."
Being holed up with the squad in Dublin, training day in, day, out, it has been a great experience for the front rower nicknamed 'Bear'. He added: "It was great to play, and just to have that much time with the squad - get to know the guys, work and train and play with them.
"Basically just having that time with them got me into the squad and I was grateful for that."
Ulster back rower Stephen Ferris, who spent part of last Tuesday doing 'research' on some Polynesian-style big 'hits' on the popular website YouTube, is relishing the chance to physically match the hard-tackling Pacific Islanders this weekend.
The debutant said: "I love a big hit myself. They won't run back at us. I love defence. I love attack as well but putting a big hit on somebody, putting them down and looking into his eyes, there's nothing better."
**All photos by Lorraine O'Sullivan of Inpho Photography**
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