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.
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, who became only the third player to score at four World Cup tournaments, was delighted to see the Green Army out in force in the arrivals hall as they put on a memorable show of colour, noise and warmth.
Speaking to RTÉ Radio 1 as he signed autographs for some of the youngsters present, O'Driscoll said: "As much as our overriding feeling is one of disappointment, it's lovely to be greeted with this reception at the airport. Thanks to everyone who came along.
"It's great to see so many people, young and old, turn out to support us. It certainly softens the blow a little bit."
The 117-times capped centre expects tournament hosts New Zealand to win the World Cup as 'they have the bit between their teeth and it's hard to look past them, even without Dan Carter'.
Asked about his plans for the coming weeks before he returns to action with Leinster, he quipped: "Go and lie on my couch for a week and let the body heal!
"A lot of us are mentally and physically drained, so we're just looking forward to a bit of downtime before we kick into the provincial season again."
Some of the players flew into Belfast, Cork and Shannon where they were greeted by family members, friends and supporters, while others have taken the opportunity to have a short holiday abroad before returning to their provinces.
Click here to view photos of the Ireland players arriving at Dublin Airport earlier today.
|RWC 2011 Pool C|