...Gavin Duffy On The Autumn Internationals...Frankie Sheahan On His Recovery...Bernard Jackman "Can't Wait" For Sportsground Return...Neil Best Expecting "Intense" Derby With Munster...
GAVIN DUFFY (Mayo News): "It has been well documented that the home nations suffered in these Autumn Internationals due to injuries or being in a state of transition and, if the World Cup in 2007 is the main focus, then now is as good as time as any to be in transition. Still, the All Blacks were simply too big, too strong and too fast. When you can pull out examples of their prop forwards dummying and spinning out passes in wide areas, you just have to say that they were also too skilful. They have raised the game to a new level.
"As a result, many rugby critics are already panicking about the home nations' prospects for 2007 and have already written them off. But a lot can happen in sport over two years. Ireland, for example, will have played at least another sixteen games before heading to France. Enough games to fine tune the new game plan and hone in on the necessary skills to do so. Johnny O'Connor's 'flip' could yet see him take part in the Olympics as well mind you!"
FRANKIE SHEAHAN (Irish Times): "I have gone to one of the top specialists in the world for injuries like this (neck) in his clinic, about two hours from Frankfurt. He's been advising me and I'll be in a better position to know a comeback date in the next couple of weeks when we have spoken again.
"It's (the neck injury) extremely frustrating as I was looking forward to being involved in the November Test series and playing for Munster in Europe.
"I'd love to be in contention (for the hooker berth in the Six Nations) and I will be hunting to get my place back when I recover, but you realise that one man's misfortune is another's opportunity."
BERNARD JACKMAN (Setanta.com): "I can't wait (to return to the Sportsground on Saturday as a former Connacht player). I'm sure some of the banter on and off the pitch will be great.
"I'd know ninety per cent of the Connacht team and I'm still texting a few of them every week.
"But I haven't seen a lot of them since I left (to join Leinster) so this weekend is my first opportunity to lock horns with them. I know that whenever I was playing for Connacht against lads who had left, there was always a lot of extra bite in the tackles, so I'm not expecting an easy afternoon.
"But it's something that I'll enjoy, and hopefully we'll get the right result."
"(On the tour to Japan) I was hoping to cement my place in the (Ireland) squad ahead of the autumn Internationals, and that didn't happen.
"Still, Shane's (Byrne) not going to be around forever, Frankie's (Sheahan) got a long-term injury, and I think there are a couple of other guys like Rory Best, Jerry Flannery and maybe myself who are on the same level.
""But I think whoever goes on a good run of form between now and the Six Nations has a great chance of getting into the squad."
NEIL BEST (Belfast Telegraph): "It's (Munster v Ulster) first against third and all of Munster's pack have been capped at international level. It's a chance for the guys who were in with a shout of the Test matches but didn't get picked to prove themselves.
"Like all derbies it will be intense but we know their side pretty well.
"It was hard to watch the Ospreys game (which Ulster lost 20-12) but we have the chance to build up to momentum before we go into Europe. It's always difficult to win away games but a win in Muster would stand us in good stead for Saracens (on December 9)."