24 May, 14:08
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.
"I've only been back training with a rugby ball for close a fortnight. Of course it's going to take a while for hand-eye coordination to start working and people to be reading each other. These things don't automatically click back in.
"The fact that I missed the end of last season as well, I've got a longer spell without any of that competitiveness, so it takes its time."
ON GAME-TIME AGAINST SCOTLAND THIS WEEKEND:
"I don't know what Eddie's plans are for the other (warm-up) games. We'll just have to see how this one goes - play it from there as to how much time I get in this game, whether I get to play the full game or 60 minutes.
"It's just a matter of getting some pitch-time and getting comfortable back in the surroundings of where you're meant to be most comfortable."
ON HIS INPUT AS CAPTAIN AND RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COACH:
"Essentially he (Eddie) is the coach and he's the guy that picks the team. Sometimes he asks me my opinion on certain things, sometimes he takes it and other times he doesn't.
"The buck stops with him, he's the one that puts the 15 out that he's most comfortable with. Sometimes it's no harm in asking me or another senior player how the combinations are working. It's just about listening to your players. Eddie's really come to understand that in the last few years."
ON PLAYING IN A NEW-LOOK TEAM AGAINST SCOTLAND:
"Of course it'll be different. You're not going to have the same continuity. So straight away it's different personnel...things are going to be slightly different, that's just life.
"The way we trained today was excellent, we took an awful lot of positives from that - the continuity that we got. Guys just slipped in and filled in their roles when they've been given their chance and hopefully that will be the case on Saturday.
"In a lot of cases still guys are uncertain as to whether they're in the squad of 30 for the World Cup. For a lot of guys it's their last opportunity to prove their worth and to prove it'll be difficult for them to be left out.
"I expect some big individual performances (against Scotland), but the best way of getting a big individual performance is by playing well as a team and that is certainly what our focus will be."
ON HOW THE 2007 SQUAD COMPARES TO THE 2003 ONE:
"There's obviously more competition for places (now). Bar maybe one or two positions I think the squad picked itself the last time around (in 2003). Whereas there's still a huge amount up for grabs now - you guys yourselves (the media) have had different opinions about who's going to be in and who's not.
"Players are pushing one another an awful lot more than they did four years ago for those final spots. Therefore the standard increases hugely and I think, as well, probably we had a very good 15 in 2003 and then probably our strength in depth slipped off after that.
"I don't think that's the case so much anymore, I think we've got guys that can come in and fill in positions when guys are injured - they're pushing forward because their form is a little bit better than the guys that appear to have the jersey. It's great from the team persective because we're getting the very best out of everyone and no one feels comfortable."
ON THE SQUAD DYNAMIC IN RECENT WEEKS:
"To be honest it's a very, very motivated squad at the moment. My job has been very easy. There hasn't really been a need for me to go around and have quiet words in guys' ears. Just people going about their business, working hard, training hard, just giving themselves every opportunity of impressing Eddie and getting on that plane.
"It should be a relatively easy teamtalk for me this weekend. Guys have that final opportunity to prove what they're capable of and a lot of international rugby is about taking your opportunity when you're given it.
"Whether it be through injury or whether it be through form, when you're given that chance in the green jersey you have to take it and you have to shine on the day and I'll just be saying that to these guys when they're taking the pitch on Saturday."
ON THE TRI NATIONS AND THE ALL BLACKS' FORM:
"To be completely honest I didn't see a huge amount of the Tri Nations. I like watching sport...but 'lying in' sometimes takes precedent over those early morning Test matches!
"I did see a good part of the game where the All Blacks were beaten in Melbourne. And certainly that day the Australians showed that the longer you hang in the game with New Zealand, the more they are there for the taking. They took their try, with Mortlock breaking extremely well, and you have to make those chances count.
"Perhaps New Zealand showed greater form last year than they did in this Tri Nations and during the summer. It's kinda hard to say because they can turn it back on come World Cup time."
ON THE SCOTLAND TEAM HE EXPECTS TO FACE:
"Obviously a full strength side. The fact of the matter is that we beat them by the two points in the Six Nations this year. Granted, we didn't play particularly well that day, and at the same time we know how tough the Scots can be when they play well.
"They'll want to go out and prove a point in that people shouldn't write them off yet. They're still capable of putting in big performances. They'll want to get some confidence out of this game in the lead-up to the World Cup.
"They'll expect to be quarter-finalists at the World Cup at the very least, with a view to possibly creating an upset. They're going into this game with a somewhat similar mindset to ourselves in that they'll want to put in a good performance and gain some sort of a result out of it."
ON GOING FIVE MONTHS WITHOUT PLAYING A MATCH:
"It's been tough but I've a bit of experience with it now. It's strange, it sounds a bit dramatic the fact that I've been out for five months but the truth of the matter is a huge part of that has been holidays and pre-season, so I wouldn't look into it that much.
" You know I don't play rugby to train, I play rugby to play games. I'm thoroughly looking forward to it (the Scotland match), I guess I'll know an awful lot more on Saturday afternoon when the game finishes how sharp or how off the pace I am, hopefully not too much so.
"I feel good at training but the real test is when you go out and you play Test rugby. You can't mirror that at training in any shape or form - the intensity and everything that goes with it is far different come kick-off time in a Test match."