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Countdown To Croker: Five Days To Go

Countdown To Croker: Five Days To Go

…Lions Experience Has BOD Brimful Of Energy…Official Ref Radios On Sale Inside Ground…Lansdowne Cup On The Line…Say What?…Numbers Game…

LIONS EXPERIENCE HAS BOD BRIMFUL OF ENERGY: Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll could be forgiven for feeling a little jaded, following his stellar efforts for Ireland, Leinster and the British & Irish Lions this past year.

But with the Grand Slam and Heineken Cup triumphs behind him and memories of the Lions tour to South Africa still fresh in his mind, the talented centre, who will play his 100th Test this coming weekend against Australia, is admittedly loving his rugby at the moment.

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“This last summer in South Africa was by far the most enjoyable Lions tour I have been on and a great experience,” he told the Telegraph newspaper.

“I feel totally re-energised. To be honest it wasn’t until South Africa this year that I finally felt I was sharing the same rugby experience as all those great Lions of yesteryear.

“I’ve listened enviously in the past when I have chatted with them but this time it was there from the day we first met – the all-for-one spirit and instant friendships.

“The only thing missing was a series win, but we gave it our very best shot against a very good side.”

That same side, South Africa, will be in town later this month. A chance for a revenge of sorts? First things first though, Robbie Deans’ Wallabies await at Croke Park this Sunday and getting one over on his former Leinster team-mate Rocky Elsom would certainly be a sweet way for O’Driscoll to celebrate his century.

OFFICIAL REF RADIOS ON SALE INSIDE GROUND: Official HP Ref Talk Radios are only on sale inside Croke Park on match days. Any radios purchased outside the stadium are not official radios.

Make sure you keep up to date with all the action on the pitch with your official HP Ref Talk Radio.

LANSDOWNE CUP ON THE LINE: Established in 1999, the Lansdowne Cup was donated to the Australian Rugby Union by the Lansdowne club of Sydney as a perpetual trophy for matches played between the Wallabies and Ireland.

Like the Lansdowne club, the cup is named after the famous Dublin 4 venue and was designed and made by Waterford Crystal.

Australia are the current holders of the trophy after their 18-12 in Melbourne in June of last year.

The Wallabies won the first Lansdowne Cup in a two Test series in 1999, when they defeated Ireland 46-10 and 32-26 in Brisbane and Perth.

Ireland hit back to win lift the trophy for the first time in 2002, winning 18-9 fittingly at Lansdowne Road. The also reclaimed it there with a 21-6 victory over the tourists in 2006.


“I don’t know if the challenge of facing Ireland will be that different to England. The first 20 minutes will be full on as they’ll come out very passionate in front of a capacity crowd.

“We’ll have to weather that and get going ourselves. You don’t get to be Grand Slam champions lightly.

“They’ll have a lot of belief because of what they did in the Six Nations. If you combine that with playing at Croke Park, they’ll take some containing.”

Robbie Deans is proceeding with some caution as prepares his Australian side to face Ireland in the cauldron of Croke Park

“It sounds cliched but every player will want to be on the team in every match and on the winning side in every match. Their ambition to do that hasn’t diminished one iota from last year, I think we have seen that.

“Everybody knows this is a whole new year, and we cannot get greedy about things. The world we live in has shown us that, we will start off afresh now, in November alone we play two of the Tri-Nations teams.

“Last year we played New Zealand and came second by a long way, so we have a big step-up coming into November.”

– Ireland coach Declan Kidney keeps everyone’s feet on the ground as the Grand Slam champions face into a new season

“It’s a massive challenge (playing against Paul O’Connell). He’s one of the best locks in the world at the moment.

“Just looking at the previous British & Irish Lions Tests, he was in fantastic form.

“This is a big challenge because Ireland are always good in the lineout and around the park so you know you are up for a pretty tough game.

“I played against him last year in Melbourne when Ireland came to us. We had a win but it was a pretty scrappy game.”

James Horwill, the 23-year-old Australian lock, speaks about the prospect of lining up against 2009 Lions captain Paul O’Connell this coming weekend


100 – Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll is set to join world rugby’s exclusive ‘100 caps’ club on Sunday when the Grand Slam champions take on Australia.

The game will mark O’Driscoll’s 100th Test in the international area, it will be his 94th appearance for Ireland and the Dubliner has also been capped six times by the British & Irish Lions. He is the eleventh player to achieve such a landmark

8 – Ireland are currently on an eight-match winning run, starting from last November’s win over Argentina through to the summer success over Eddie O’Sullivan’s USA side.

Ireland’s best winning sequence came during O’Sullivan’s reign, stretching for ten games from the Rugby World Cup qualifiers in 2002 through to the latter stages of the 2003 Six Nations

58 – Ireland’s record points scorer Ronan O’Gara has scored 58 points in seven Tests against Australia between 2002 and 2008 – he is the leading Irish points scorer in Test matches against Australia.

The legendary Michael Lynagh leads the way for the Wallabies with 64 points in six appearances against Ireland between 1984 and 1994