Jump to main content



Countdown To Thomond: Three Days To Go

Countdown To Thomond: Three Days To Go

…Buckley ‘Deserves His Chance’…Back Row Depth Delights Donncha…Ferris ‘Fighting Fit’ For First Outing At 6…Say What?…Numbers Game…

BUCKLEY ‘DESERVES HIS CHANCE’: Despite only two starts and two appearances off the bench for Munster so far this season, monster prop Tony Buckley finds himself in an Ireland starting line-up.

Some may say Declan Kidney’s decision to hand Buckley the number 3 jersey is a strange one, given the step-up and that he has also been lining out for Shannon in the AIB League recently.

But the Ireland coach is unconcerned that the 28-year-old has been in and out of the Munster team.

“He’s trained very well since he has come in with us. We watched him playing the games and I know what he is capable of,” Kidney said.

“We are going into a series of games now and the way he has trained – I believe he deserves his chance in there. That’s how I see it really.”

There is no doubting that Buckley deserves his maiden start in green. For Ireland’s last seven Test matches, including the 2008 Six Nations and summer tour, he has gained game-time as a replacement.

Kidney added: “I fully understand why provinces pick different players at different times. They are doing their job as well too.

“It’s just…it’s what it is now. He deserves his go and he is getting it on Saturday.”

BACK ROW DEPTH DELIGHTS DONNCHA: The battle for the back row positions in the Ireland team has long been a heated one, with players from all four provinces pushing for selection.

Running through the list of names, from experienced heads to young tyros, other nations must look on and salivate at the depth of quality in the Irish back row ranks.

Second row Donncha O’Callaghan agrees that the number 6, 7 and 8 shirts are prized possessions amongst his peers.

“It’s the most competititve position in Ireland, the back row. You just look at the amount of quality we have there in the squad,” he explained.

“And there’s Denis Leamy coming back into the fold (from injury). There’s tremendous confidence in anyone that takes on the shirt.”

With Ulster powerhouse Stephen Ferris coming in for his first Test start in over a year and Leinster’s Shane Jennings set for just his third start for Ireland, O’Callaghan is putting his provincial bias to one side.

“Yeah, from a friendship point of view, you’d be disappointed for Quinny (Alan Quinlan) and Wally (David Wallace) because you pal around with them. But Fez and Jenno, you know from playing against them, they give everything every week.

“I’m delighted to go out with them this week and hopefully we can put in a big performance.”

FERRIS ‘FIGHTING FIT’ FOR FIRST OUTING AT 6: To say Stephen Ferris has been unlucky with injuries in recent seasons is an understatement. As the player himself explains, things have not always gone to plan for him since he made his Test debut two years ago against the Pacific Islanders.

“I’ve had a bit of a problem with injuries over the last couple of years, but that’s the life of a rugby player on some occasions. But I’ll just try to go out and look forward to my sixth cap (on Saturday against Canada),” he insisted.

“I’ve had injuries where it just couldn’t be helped. I tore the cartilage in my left knee in the second game of the Argentina tour (last year).

“Something like that there’s nothing that could be done. I had an operation, got back, had a couple of games and tested it, got myself fit. Through the World Cup I didn’t get playing (though).

“My knee wasn’t quite right (again) and I had to go under the knife. But now it’s brilliant, it’s probably stronger than the other knee!”

Starting for the first time since that Argentina tour, Ferris will wear the Ireland number 6 jersey for the first time and he intends on keeping it.

“At the start of the season I had a slipped disc in my back but I’m fighting fit now and feeling as fresh as ever.

“I played my last few games at Ulster at 6 and really enjoyed it, I think I’m really starting to fit into the 6 role and really looking forward to it on Saturday.

“There is a lot of competition, European Cup medallists breathing down my neck so I need to be on top of my game if I’m going to nail down the 6 jersey.

“There’s so many players and competition for places. It is a massive opportunity (this weekend) and try to go out there, give it my all and grab it,” he added.

To watch Stephen Ferris’ interview with Jim Sherwin on Irish Rugby TV, please click here.


“Declan announced the team (this morning) and that was the first time I heard. He picked a couple of teams last week but he was giving nothing away – everyone was trying to guess the team!

“When I came out of the meeting, I was straight on the phone to my father and told him I was selected. He was over the moon, he told everyone.”

Keith Earls explains how he learned of his selection at full-back for Saturday’s GUINNESS Series 2008 opener against Canada, and how his father Ger, the former Young Munster and Munster flanker, reacted

“I think he’s probably been the in-form back in Ireland this year. He’s a very exciting player.

“I don’t want to build things up too much because it is about growing into international rugby. But at the same time I know if he can get those basics right, I know he can create things as well.”

– Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll gives his thoughts on Ireland’s new full-back Keith Earls and what he makes of him as a player

“I don’t really change anything about my life now than when I’m playing with Munster.

“I’ve done the same thing as I’ve always done…but it’s strange people coming up to you in the street. It’s good.”

– Keith Earls on how his life has changed little so far since his sparkling form with Munster gained him a place in the Ireland squad, apart from the strangers recognising him in the street!


3 – The number of previous Test matches between Ireland and Canada. The men in green produced wins at the 1987 Rugby World Cup (46-19) and in a Lansdowne Road friendly (33-11) ten years later, but when the sides last met in Ontario in 2000, a Warren Gatland-coached Ireland had to battle back to secure a 27-27 draw

25 – The average age of the Ireland back-line which will start Saturday’s clash with the Canadians at Thomond Park. The youngsters of the bunch are Keith Earls (21), Luke Fitzgerald (21) and Rob Kearney (22), while Ronan O’Gara is the elder statesman at 31

5 – The number of players named in Ireland’s 23-man squad for the Canada game who are affiliated to the Shannon club – Marcus Horan, Jerry Flannery and Tony Buckley will all start in the front row, while Alan Quinlan and Peter Stringer are set for bench places