10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
Coach Eddie O'Sullivan gave a brief run-down on how the management and squad spent the week prior to departure and of his expectations from the competition.
" We tried to get a lot done on the field and off it as well. Last Monday we had standard training in the morning at Lansdowne Road and Kit allocation. The usual weights session in the afternoon and that evening we had a talk from Antartic Explorer Sir Ranulph Finnes, described in the Guinness Book of Records as the "world's greatest explorer."
"On Tuesday we travelled to Co Carlow RFC, trained there and then went over to Mount Juliet for a round of golf and a night out.
" On Wednesday, training in the morning weights in the afternoon and that evening a talk from Marvin Haggler, the undisputed world middleweight champion for 7 years. Now that left a great buzz in the camp and I can say there was a definite edge to the training the following morning. On Thursday evening we attended the farewell corporate banquet in Jury's Hotel.
"After training on Friday, we all broke up for a couple of days to go home and say our goodbyes and on Sunday night we came back to Dublin and had a little gathering with family members. All in all an enjoyable week. It's been a bit of fun and we got a lot of work done."
Speaking about the atmosphere in the squad, O'Sullivan said, "There's a good feel about. Lot of energy, guys on their toes, players a little anxious. Bit of tension, guys keen to get on with it, to get to Australia. Waiting for the off is the hard part.
"Looking at the pools I suppose we might have liked an easier path to get to a quarter final. The danger of that," he points out however is, "that you can get to a quarter final and not know the measure of your ability. I think if we get through our pool and get to a quarter final we'll have a pretty good picture of how good we are and I think that's probably a good way to go into a quarter final. Maybe in an easier pool you might skate through to the quarters and then get caught by a left hook on arrival. The key is to get there".
Setting out the goals is simple enough for the Ireland coach. "The goal is to get out of the pool in this World Cup and get as far as we can in the competition. And we're not really looking beyond that. I mean if you get to the quarters you're one game away from a semi final. Now I know that sounds obvious but it's actually important to focus like that as a team. First things first, get out of the pool and then take it from there."