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Countdown To Croker: Four Days To Go

Countdown To Croker: Four Days To Go

…Wallace Ready For England Battle…O2 Captains Banquet Ball…Kidney On The Odd Men Out…Say What?…Numbers Game…

WALLACE READY FOR ENGLAND BATTLE: Paddy Wallace has certainly been in the wars to date in this year’s RBS 6 Nations Championship, sustaining separate facial injuries in the wins over France and Italy.

Although the Ulster centre’s face still bares some signs of those injuries, Wallace is fit and raring to go for Saturday’s crunch clash with England after being named in an unchanged Irish team.

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He said: “I’ve had the stitches out, I’ve trained all week and got a bit of contact in today, so I’m looking forward to it.

“It was frustrating (getting the injuries). The first injury was probably a lot worse in terms of having 16 stitches. Then I was unfortunate to get a bang on the other eye against Italy.

“Everybody thought it was the same injury, that had opened up again. But it was a fresh one and the swelling forced me off because I could see out of that right eye. It was frustrating and I felt very unlucky.”

Gordon D’Arcy was pressing hard to take the Ireland number 12 jersey for the England game, but Wallace has had his confidence boosted by the Irish management’s decision to stick with a Brian O’Driscoll-Wallace centre partnership.

“We’ve started two games and we’ve won two games. Declan’s probably always one for keeping a winning formula.

“Although I’ve been unfortunate to come off the pitch and only played a half of rugby last week against Italy, I was hopeful that Declan would stick to a winning formula.

“It fills me full of confidence that the coach has his trust in me. Having not played and got into the Italian game as I would have liked, he’s retained me and hopefully I can back that up with a good performance against England.”

Focusing on next weekend’s game, which will be Wallace’s 15th Test match, the Belfast man feels Ireland will be fully prepared for what England throw at them.

“It’s 80,000-plus and it’s against England at Croke Park and it’s a Six Nations match with a lot riding on it. In terms of getting up for the match, it’s not going to be hard.

“It’s just getting the small things right during the week, making sure you know everything that the job entails and hopefully the rest will take care of itself in the build-up to the match,” he said.

O2 CAPTAINS BANQUET BALL: On the eve of the RBS 6 Nations game between Ireland and England, why not join us for the off-field rugby highlight of the year? The O2 Captains Banquet Ball in aid of the IRFU Charitable Trust!

This season marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the IRFU Charitable Trust. Already the trust has hosted their annual Charity Question of Sport and annual dinner.

On the eve of the Ireland v England game at Croke Park, the Charitable Trust is delighted to present, ‘The O2 Captains Banquet Ball’, featuring past captains of Irish rugby,

This black tie event will take place at the D4 Hotel, formally Jury’s, this coming Friday.

Tickets cost 195 euro and tables of ten and twelve are also available.

All proceeds raised go to the IRFU Charitable Trust for seriously injured players.

For more information please contact:

Jean Casey
Telephone: +353 1 647 3813
Email – Click Here.

KIDNEY ON THE ODD MEN OUT: So far in the 2009 RBS 6 Nations, experienced players such as Girvan Dempsey and Shane Horgan have been left out of the Ireland matchday squad.

Having both scored tries when England last visited Croke Park two years ago, missing Saturday’s game will surely disappoint the experienced Leinster pair.

This will be the four successive Test match that they have left out for this season and head coach Declan Kidney commented on the situation at the team announcement press conference.

“That’s always a dillemma with selection isn’t it? There’s a load of guys you’d like to give a game to,” he said.

“It’s not a case that you wouldn’t entrust them with a game. Girvan played against New Zealand, it’s been a frustrating time for Shane in that he just had the end game of the Canada match.

“But the dillemma is who do you leave out when you are trying to accomodate guys? You are also trying to get in a certain amount of co-ordination with those guys in a short period of time that is in the international frame.

“It’s a little bit different in the northern Hemisphere as against the southern Hemisphere where they get a three-month run at their international season.

“There’s a load of guys that I would love to play. Referring to the earlier question about where are the major dillemmas in selection, you never enjoy not picking a guy. There are a lot of guys at training who are doing really well.

“I just commented on that this morning at training that we had asked the non-starting 15 to do a couple of things for us and the execution of their work was exemplary.

“How do you justify then not picking them? That’s what I found with Shane and Girvan, but they are several more as well that are putting up their hand like Eoin Reddan and a load of guys that are good players that aren’t getting the chance to start,” the Corkman added.

“That makes a good side because the 15 guys who do get picked – I didn’t spell it out this weekend but I think it deserves to be spelt out – they are there because they deserve to be there but they know that if there is any bit of relaxation at all, a load of guys are willing to take their place.”


“Well I think any time a player is dropped out, unfortunately – I have gone on record before as saying that’s the part of the job you hate doing. Mal has always been a total professional in that he will take the news on the chin and move on with it, and he’ll work his way to get back into the side.

“I’ve absolutely no doubt about that. His disappointment is as it is with every player who gets left out. I don’t think anyone likes being left out of any side, let alone your national side.

“The fact that they have to work so hard to get into it, it is all but touchable when you tell fellas how disappointed they are. Mal certainly fits into that category.”

Declan Kidney on breaking the news to Malcolm O’Kelly, Ireland’s most-capped player, that he is not in the Ireland squad for Saturday’s clash with England at Croke Park

“We were doing them in the hotel one day. Strings (Peter Stringer) can do about 15 of them. Pound for pound he’s incredibly strong.

“I couldn’t get the technique right, so I practised a little until I got it right. That’s all there is to the story.

“There is (a technique to them). You’ve got to get your hand in the middle a lot more and your legs spread. If you arched your back the lads wouldn’t give them to you. You had to be doing them fairly right before they were satisfied.”

– In a recent interview, Paul O’Connell revealed the truth behind Donncha O’Callaghan catching him doing one-arm press-ups alone in his room. As with anything he does, it is a case of practice makes perfect for the Munster lock

“This is a good time to be involved in Irish rugby. You just have to look at Leinster and Munster going well and Ulster coming into a bit of form after a tough start (to the season).

“The thing was, over the last 12 months, that wasn’t being transferred to the national side. So Declan is trying to change that.

“We’re beating French teams in the Heineken Cup. So why shouldn’t we beat them at international level? He makes a lot of sense. Players are being told to go out and play their own game. It gives you confidence. You’re good enough.”

– Winger Tommy Bowe talks about the current good feeling in the Irish camp and the challenge of transferring provincial form onto the international stage


25 – As well as it being Paul O’Connell’s 60th Test cap for Ireland on Saturday, the game against England will see O’Connell and Donncha O’Callaghan starting together in Ireland’s second row for the 25th time

43 – Ireland’s biggest points win and margin of victory in this fixture came two years ago when they ran in four tries for a 43-13 success at Croke Park. England’s highest score against Ireland was in their 50-18 win at Twickenham in 2000. Their 46-6 win in Dublin in 1997 is the biggest winning margin of all the matches to date

15 – Legendary centre Mike Gibson, who played in 15 successive matches for Ireland between 1964 and 1978, still holds the record for most appearances in the Ireland v England games. Rory Underwood appeared 14 times for England against Ireland