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In Pics: Captain’s Run At Lansdowne Road

In Pics: Captain’s Run At Lansdowne Road

Click here for photos from Saturday’s Captain’s Run session at Lansdowne Road.

Pictured above: Ireland’s Brian O’Driscoll ditches the oval ball for a bit of soccer practice at the tail end of the session at Lansdowne Road. Asked about his current form at Saturday’s press conference, the Irish captain said: I haven’t really though too much about it, but I’ve enjoyed getting back into the swing of things (after the injury lay-off). With each passing game I’ve felt a little bit more confident and a little bit closer to where I want to be.

“My general sharpness is starting to pick up. I think feeling good in training is one of the tell tale signs. I think when you start feeling good in training you’re usually able to take that out on to the pitch.”

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Munster prop John Hayes, who will earn his 60th cap for his country this afternoon, takes part in a passing drill at Lansdowne Road. Today will be Hayes’ seventh Test against Wales – he has yet to score against the men from the Valleys.

Gordon D’Arcy fields a pass. The Leinster centre, who scored his third Test try a fortnight ago in Paris, is set for his 18th cap since making his senior debut as a teenager at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

Brian O’Driscoll sees the funny side of things alongside a bemused looking Gordon D’Arcy. O’Driscoll is expecting a tough encounter with the Welsh despite their recent troubles, caused by the shock resignation of Grand Slam-winning coach Mike Ruddock last week. O’Driscoll said: “I’m a firm believer in the fact that you don’t become a bad side overnight, and even though Wales have a number of injuries at the moment, they’re still very much a team to be reckoned with.

“They were very consistent last year and I think that was the main reason they managed to win the Grand Slam. Winning a competition like this is all about attaining that level on consistency. But at times, they were very beatable. I think we saw that when they played the French, but they did well to stay in touch in that game, and turned things around in the second half.

“Against us, they got a block-down early on and managed to pull away. They got an extra try that disappointed us as well – but they were very good. They knew their style of play very well and they were good at it.”

Full-back Geordan Murphy in action at the Captain’s Run. Ireland have won eight, lost nine and drew one of their clashes with Wales since 1970. The omens of an Irish win are good – 2002 saw Ireland play the Welsh on a Sunday. They thrashed the Dragons 54-10 in coach Eddie O’Sullivan’s first game in charge. Two days after, then Wales coach Graham Henry resigned.

Leinster and Ireland colleagues Shane Horgan and Brian O’Driscoll joke around at the session. Winger Horgan will hope to come back into scoring form against the Welsh – the Drogheda man has only scored one try in his last 11 outings in green. However, Horga’s record against Wales is heartening, with a try every two games.

**All photos by Billy Stickland of Inpho Photography**