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.
But looking back first on the game against Wales ?
Against the Welsh we got a great start. We talk about it every game, how important the start is. But to get a try in the first minute or whatever it was is just what you need in an international. Especially at home and against a team like Wales who came into it on a high. In the end the score line gave us winning easily but it was a tough physical game They'd a big pack and they were willing to open it up so it was a fast game.
Yeh, it was disappointing to see Donncha go off, especially for a young lad like him, who had just got in to start. He had been really looking forward to that game, his first start at home, yeh disappointing it had to end that way.
I spoke to him after he had the scan and he was happy enough it didn't show up anything major, so hopefully he'll be grand.
Overall I suppose I'd be happy enough with the way things went. We did give away those late scores and that was annoying. I suppose it was a combination of things.
You've a team like Wales who are a proud team and they're not going to lie down We were fairly well ahead of them so you'd like to think you'd do the same yourself, not lie down and take it like. They kept going for 80 minutes to try scoring a try and they did.
From our point of view it would have been nice to keep a clean sheet, keep them out, but it didn't happen and of course we'd not be happy with that aspect, so we just have to work on that. But like I said Wales are a proud side, they hadn't managed to score for the first hour and kept plugging away. You have to admire the way they stuck at it.
Then an interuption. - A little like the kids at race-meetings who gather around the TV commentators at interview time, Paul O'Connell drifts over to his colleague with a mischievous demeanour but if he does Hayes continues, his grin getting broader.
We'll miss Donners right enough. O'Connell doesn't have the same physical presence, Donners is the power like, up front where ye really need it. The good natured banter ends with a laughing O'Connell departing the scene having left his own particular scent of after shave behind.
Last Friday evening, the beginning of a few days off for John Hayes began in a comfortable chair at home in front of the television watching Munster play The Ospreys a game they lost narrowly.
I thought they played fairly well really, just two mistakes made in the second half and Ospreys pounced on them and won the game from there.
And Christian Cullen ? Delighted to have him in the side definitely. Anyone who can raise that sort of interest in the game has to be good for it. That's what he did on Friday night, on a cold night a huge crowd came out to watch and apart from that especially for the backs who'll be training with him day in and day out it'll be a huge help, a player of his stature just has to be good. Good for the whole squad.
Hayes is unusual in that his time off is spent on the family farm and not as a spectator either. Yeh, it's a busy time with cows calving and that. Over the weekend the afternoons were spent giving a hand out. I think it's great to get away.
It's great to be up here doing what we're doing, being involved with the Six Nations and everything like that but every so often a day like that at home is great, just for a change. To get away from it all, it freshens you up a bit. I really enjoy that. Then we it's back up here on a Sunday evening you'd delighted to be back and you just get the buzz all over again.
On to the business of this weekend and the game against England, This is a big game. The one thing about this game is that they're world champions now which they weren't before and that gives this game that extra bit. It's the first time for us to play them since they were crowned world champions which makes it an even bigger game.
And is playing at Twickenham any different than other stadia ? I don't think so, not really. It's the opposition you see. No matter whether it's Twickenham, Stade de France, Murrayfield or The Millennium, it's the players in front of you that might be more intimidating rather than the place itself. Whatever about the rest of them England really play well at home, they've really performed there over the past few years so that what makes it that bit harder.
And any easier now that the likes of Martin Johnson not playing ? No I don't think so at this stage, now it doesn't matter. A year or two ago maybe, he would have been a huge loss. But they've all been there for a while now, they've won a world cup so they know how to win games now. I know he was there in that time but the lads who are there now have accumulated a lot of experience and that experience runs right through the side.
Preparation for this game changes little from any other although there were developments within the squad, such as the return of Mike McGurn and the arrival of Trevor Brennan. Yeh, Mike is back and that's good, he's a hard trainer, a good fella, gets the most out ye. Trevor is over for the week along with a few extra guys who were brought in. It's good to see him back around the place.
Training was a bit disrupted during the week because of frost but it didn't interrupt things much nothing major. It meant one morning we couldn't train at the time we intended but it was just put back a bit.
One thing you can be certain with John Hayes, he will let nothing distract him from the task in hand. An enquiry of his and the squad's whereabouts once in England is met with, I haven't a clue.. I'll just get onto the team bus at the airport and wherever it drops me I'll get out there.
Nor will he be distracted by a special interest in the curtain raiser, the Womens international which sees his girlfriend Fiona Steed win her 60th consecutive cap. I won't get to see the game. I think they play at one o'clock and we're on at four so I think they'll actually be gone before we get there.
For Hayes the focus is narrow and no need for any incentive. You're playing the world champions. Playing them at home. That'd be incentive enough. You're playing against the best team in the world. They were ranked number one before the world cup and then went on to win it. They were able to live up to their ranking. So they are the top team. That's motivation enough.
Looking forward to the game? Ah yeh, always am. Internationals are special. It's always great to be picked. The morning when the team is being announced you still feel the nerves, hoping your name will be called out. That'll never change. Delighted to be in the team looking forward to the game.
And what of Ireland's chances ? You can be sure of one thing, we won't be leaving anything behind.