10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
SIMON EASTERBY PRESS CONFERENCE QUOTES:
- ON CAPTAINING IRELAND -
"Captaining Ireland is a huge honour for me. But it's not something that I have gone after.
"I am a firm believer that the captaincy is something that is offered to you by those who feel you can do a job. Eddie (O'Sullivan) and Niall (O'Donovan) obviously think that I can.
"With Brian O'Driscoll and Paul O'Connell injured, I see it as a short-term thing, but I'm delighted to get the opportunity."
- ON HIS LIONS TOUR -
"What the Lions tour did was to give me a lot of confidence to show that I could compete and play alongside the best.
"Although we lost the series, I felt we competed quite well in the back-row in the second and third tests. It's given me a lot of confidence and I think I've brought a lot of that form back to my club game."
- ON THE SPEAR TACKLE THAT END BRIAN O'DRISCOLL'S LIONS TOUR -
"I definitely won't be bringing that incident up. As far as we are concerned, that's done.
"We haven't mentioned it this week. That's now between Brian and Tana Umaga.
"Obviously, we know we are going to have to match the physicality that New Zealand can bring to the game, but we are certainly not going to to be looking to do anything that's outside the laws."
- ON NEW ZEALAND'S TEAM SELECTION -
"Despite all the changes New Zealand have made for us their style will stay the same because it's worked so well for them. It worked against the Lions and in the Tri-Nations.
"Last weekend against Wales they looked very sharp. They are very lucky to have a squad of 30-odd players who can perform at Test level. Whatever team they put out, they will play with a very similar style.
"But there are two newcomers there and it is often said that Super 12 rugby is very different to Test rugby. If that's the case maybe we can catch them cold.
"But I'm sure they know what they're doing and the management obviously think they're good enough to play Test rugby."
- ON THE BREAKDOWN BATTLE -
"The breakdown is a huge area for the All Blacks - especially for the back row, as the Lions found out in the summer.
"Eddie (O'Sullivan) has picked a back row which can compete in that area. It will be a key area to winning the game.
"Wales struggled a lit bit there. Richie is world class at his job and he'll be someone we have to target, but Johnny (O'Connor) is also in good form."