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In Pics: Ireland Training In Auckland (4)

In Pics: Ireland Training In Auckland (4)

Click here for more photos of the Ireland squad’s training session in Auckland on Monday.

Pictured above: Fresh from captaining Munster to Heineken Cup glory last month, Anthony Foley is back in the Ireland squad. The 32-year-old number eight is seen stretching here with his provincial colleague Paul O’Connell. The last of Foley’s 62 Ireland caps came against Wales in March of last year, so the Killaloe man will be itching for some involvement on the tour Down Under.

Foley played in both Tests against New Zealand on the 2002 tour and was also capped against the All Blacks at Lansdowne Road the previous November.

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Munster lock Donncha O’Callaghan flings a pass out at training. The 27-year-old is yet to play in an Irish jersey on New Zealand soil – he started the second and third Test matches of last year’s Lions tour alongside Paul O’Connell, and partnered Malcolm O’Kelly in the second row when the All Blacks visited Lansdowne Road last November.

If he plays on Saturday, it will be O’Callaghan’s 25th cap for Ireland.

Paul O’Connell works up a sweat during the session. O’Connell, 26, was one of only two Lions players to play every minute of last summer’s Test matches against New Zealand.

In the lead-up to last month’s Heineken Cup final against Biarritz, Munster skipper Anthony Foley gave an interesting insight into the commitment and sheer will that has helped mould O’Connell into the world class lock that he is today.

Foley explained: “At times I’ve had to ask Paulie to tone it down in training – not so much for his own sake as for the other fellas around him. They just can’t do what he can do.

“On Wednesday (at Munster) we sometimes have optional training sessions which, shall we say, aren’t regarded as optional by everyone. To him it doesn’t matter. He’s in there working ridiculously hard. Paulie can do that and still perform on the Saturday but the guys training with him were turning up shattered. He’s had to learn to pull back before a game.”

Gordon D’Arcy who failed to gain a test cap for the Lions against New Zealand last summer. The Leinster centre played six times for the so called ‘Midweek Massive’ against the Bay of Plenty, New Zealand Maori, Otago, Southland, Manawatu and Auckland – scoring two tries.

Now back in form and in full fitness, D’Arcy has been ever present for Ireland this season – starting all eight Test matches in 2005/06 so far, including the full five in the RBS 6 Nations. He scored his third Test try in the defeat to France in February.

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan was quick to respond to reporters on Sunday when asked about the controversial spear tackle which ended his captain Brian O’Driscoll’s Lions tour last summer.

O’Sullivan said: “It’s all done and dusted. It’s ancient history I think. There’s not much point in talking about it.

“Obviously Brian was disappointed with how the Lions tour went for him. He didn’t get to play that much but he’s looking forward to this Test series.”

Gordon D’Arcy became the seventh player to reach 100 caps for Leinster in March. The Wexford man had a decent strike rate for the province this season with 6 tries in 20 games. His three Heineken Cup tries came against Glasgow Warriors and Bourgoin (2).

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

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