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Rugby Shorts: Ireland v Wales

Rugby Shorts: Ireland v Wales

…Welsh Supporters Take Flight…Henson: “It’s Going To Be An Experience”…Easterby Eyes ‘Cyril’ The Catalyst…Irish Doc In The Dragons’ Camp…Blanket Coverage For Ireland ‘A’ Team…

…The Ireland team huddle at the Millennium Stadium last March…

…Welsh Supporters Take Flight…Henson: “It’s Going To Be An Experience”‘…Easterby Eyes ‘Cyril’ The Catalyst…Irish Doc In The Dragons’ Camp…Blanket Coverage For Ireland ‘A’ Team…

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More than 5,000 Welsh supporters have travelled over to Dublin for today’s eagerly-awaited clash. 28 additional flights to Ireland were laid on at Welsh airports on Friday to cater for the demand…

…Welsh centre Gavin Henson, he of the hair gel, silver boots and fake tan, will make his first ever appearance at Lansdowne Road today if he is sprung from the bench by new coach Scott Johnson. Henson said: “I have never played at Lansdowne Road before so, yes, it’s going to be an experience. But if the crowd get a bit vocal…great. I always seem to get a bit of a reaction from the crowd anyway and I think it’s good for the game.”

Referring to his literary spat with Brian O’Driscoll (Henson accused the Ireland and Lions captain of gouging him when Ireland and Wales met last March in Cardiff), Henson added: “I toured with Brian on the Lions tour and got on with him well. He’s a world-class player. To be honest, I think everybody has moved on from the book. It’s done and dusted, as far as I’m concerned”…

Bar outside centre Hal Luscombe, each member of the Welsh backline for today’s cruncher with Ireland has played rugby for the Llanelli Scarlets. No need to tell Ireland flanker Simon Easterby, who became the Scarlets’ first non-Welsh captain in the Llanelli club’s in 2004, of that fact.

Relaying his thoughts on his clubs mates-turned-opponents, the 30-year-old Easterby singled out half-backs Stephen Jones, who is Clermont-based but bound for a return to Stradey Park in the summer, and Dwayne Peel for special attention.

Easterby said: “Stephen Jones was best man at my wedding. Before last year’s Grand Slam game, he kept cutting me off when I rang him. This week he’s been talking to me, but not giving much away. We call him ‘The Count’ – we hope he doesn’t put us out for the count on Sunday!

“That goes for Dwayne Peel too. Or ‘Cyril the Swan’ as I call him, because of his neck! He claims he’s a Swansea City fan, but has only watched them about three times, even though his house is only 30 minutes from the ground.

“Cyril was going to the Swans matches this season. But as soon as they started slipping down the table, he stopped. He’s a fair weather fan. But what a top player. He is the one we have to stop, the catalyst for everything Wales do. I’m after him – and he knows that!”…

…Wales have had an Irishman in their camp all season. Dr. Liam Kilduff, who hails from Athlone, has been assisting the Dragons with their sports science needs ever since the Welsh Rugby Union specially commissioned a project in the led up to this season’s RBS 6 Nations.

The 30-year-old Kilduff, who lectures in Exercise Physiology and Sports Nutrition at Swansea University and was a former rugby centre, has put the entire Welsh squad through rigorous physical tests to determine the power and strength characteristics of each player.

Dr. Kilduff told the Western Mail: “At the level the national squad members are playing, a one-size-fits-all approach to training and fitness just isn’t enough.

“The results of our tests mean that players can train far more effectively, making the most of their strengths and addressing any areas of weakness much more precisely in order to help us develop stronger, faster and more explosive players, which is vital in the modern game.”

So don’t blame the Irish management if we lose this afternoon, it will be all the good doctor’s fault!…

The Ireland ‘A’ team made a sleepy start to their game against France ‘A’ in Limoges on Friday, February 10. An alleged lack of curtains in the Irish players’ hotel rooms could easily account for them shipping two early tries in the 20-12 defeat.

But recounting the ‘A’ team’s trip in his diary for the Mayo News, Harlequins centre Gavin Duffy wrote: “We travelled to France on Wednesday morning and had another run out later that evening. Next morning and most of us were complaining of the lack of sleep we had. You could image how surprised we were that the hotel we were staying in “down town” Limoges didn’t even have curtains!

Mick O’Driscoll, who spent the last two seasons playing in France with Perpignan, strolled into the room looking fresh as a daisy. “Them shutters on the windows are mighty lads aren’t they?” he said.

“Yeah, great Mick alright” went the reply. Word went around about 12 o’clock that afternoon that there were, indeed, electric shutters on all the windows. Down came the blankets fellas had hung around the windows to block out the light! No guessing where most of us headed after training”…

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