Keith Earls is expected to shake off an ankle injury and be available for Munster’s Pro 12 final against Scarlets at the Aviva Stadium next Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Keith Earls and Andrew Conway to take part in light training session on Monday

Munster’s Francis Saili and Donnacha Ryan wave goodbye to the crowd at Thomond Park following their Pro12 semi-final win over Ospreys. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Departing Francis Saili enlivens team in Pro12 semi-final win over Ospreys

Munster’s Simon Zebo and fellow teammates try to lift Donnacha Ryan into the air at the end of the game. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony spoke about a season full of highs and one particular tragic low point

Opening try scorer Francis Saili delivered a man of the match performance on his final Thomond Park appearance. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Province set up Scarlets showdown after dismissing Ospreys at Thomond Park

Secondrow Donnacha Ryan is among the players leaving Munster in the summer. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Returning Lions boost Welsh club’s chances but home side should triumph in semi-final

Francis Saili is to leave Munster at the end of the season. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ian Keatley and Jaco Taute both sign contract extensions as New Zealander departs

Paul Wallace played all three Lions Tests in South Africa in 1997 having been called up as a replacement. Photograph: Bily Stickland/Inpho

Many Irish players have full-blooded Pro12 clashes before they join up with squad

Paul Boyle will lead Ireland under-20s in Georgia. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

No playing survivors remain from the side beaten in last year’s World Cup final

Leinster’s Hayden Triggs: “The game is different (now), and it’s almost like I don’t like it anymore.” Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Kiwi is planning for retirement and says that the game has moved to a place he doesn’t like

Ireland travel to play France on the opening weekend of the 2018 Six Nations. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland’s 2018 campaign bookended by trips to France and England, rest weekends stay

Andrew Porter and Joey Carbery are two of the younger players in the Leinster squad encouraged to speak up. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Stuart Lancaster says all young players are encouraged to speak up and give their view

Garry Ringrose: “Six months ago I made my debut for Ireland and I didn’t think I would ever be namechecked by Warren Gatland to do with the Lions.” Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Leinster and Ireland centre focusing on Friday’s Pro12 semi-final against Scarlets

Leinster’s Sean Cronin looks set to miss their Pro12 semi-final clash with Scarlets. Photo: Inpho

Sean O’Brien has returned to full training after a month out with a hamstring issue

IRFU’s head of international talent ID and development Joe Lydon: “Success has to be Ireland as a national team doing well. But it may be that means that there are no IQ players involved.” Photograph: Michael Regan/Getty Images

IRFU’s head of international talent brings raft of experience and passion to new role

 Julian Savea of the Hurricanes makes a break on his way to scoring a try during the  Super Rugby match against  the Stormers. Photograph:Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Likes of Hurricanes and Highlanders are dominating the Super Rugby Championship

IJoe Schmidt poses during the Rugby World Cup 2019 draw in Kyoto, Japan. Photograph: Reuters

New Zealand or South Africa our likely quarter-final opponents in Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt arrives for the Rugby World Cup pool draw with Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photograph: Issei Kato/Reuters

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland side avoid big guns in favourable World Cup pool draw

Kevin Maggs has been appointed as the IQ Regional Talent Coach in Britain. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Union restructuring current network which will now be known as the IQ programme

Johnny Sexton and Peter O’Mahony are two of Ireland’s healthy representation in next month’s  Lions tour to New Zealand. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Season’s work with province far from done but selection for All Blacks trip an honour

Cork Constitution captain Niall Kenneally lifts the cup after his side’s league final win over Clontarf. Photograph: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Con lift fourth trophy of the season after win over defending champions Clontarf

Clontarf celebrate as  Matt D’Arcy goes over for a try against Cork Con during last year’s final. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Cork outfit possess the more imposing pack but holders ’Tarf pose a real threat out wide

Cork Constitution’s Gavin Duffy with Ben Reilly of Clontarf at the Aviva Stadium prior to Sunday’s Ulster Bank League Division 1A final. “It was our mission to get back here,” said Duffy.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Con loosehead prop Gavin Duffy says they are ‘definitely hungrier’ ahead of final

Ospreys’ Dan Biggar  celebrates with team-mate Scott Baldwin after the 31-30 victory over Leinster in the 2012 PRO12 final at the RDS. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

No club which has finished third or fourth has managed to reach final in seven seasons

Andy Wood: “We have guys who have been there [Clontarf] since they were four or five years of age, playing all the way through.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Sunday’s showdown with Cork Con a fourth league final in a row for reigning champions

Ireland Under-20 fullback  Jordan Larmour will miss the Junior World Championship in Georgia after undergoing ankle surgery. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Interim coach Peter Malone could be without some key players for tournament in Georgia

Mike Ross: announced his retirement this week but will feature in the Leinster team to host Glasgow Warriors.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

A late change by Leinster sees the injured Jack Conan replaced by Dan Leavy for Warriors visit

 Munster scrumhalf Duncan Williams box kicks during the  Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Rugby Stats: Relentless Saracens pressure contributed to second-half deterioration

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton: “I don’t think you always have to go through losses to be successful.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Outhalf hopes province can underline progress by finishing the season unbeaten

Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster and head coach Leo Cullen at the club training session in UCD on Monday. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Leinster coach backs players but bemoans little errors that cost a lot in loss to Clermont

Rory Best leads out the Lions against the ACT Brumbies at Canberra Stadium in 2013. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

‘Mentally, I wasn’t in a good enough place to go out there and take the opportunity’

 Chris Wyles goes over to score Saracens’ second try in the Champions Cup semi-final against Munster  at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Rassie Erasmus’s side had their chances before English side slammed the door shut

Andrew Conway on his way to scoring a try against Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Underage superstar flourishing at Munster after struggling with transition to senior game

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty for Leinster. A team that kicks the first penalty in a European Cup semi-final has prevailed in 19 (59 per cent) matches. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

In last 32 Champions Cup semi-finals first team to cross whitewash won two-thirds of time

Keith Earls in action against Toulouse in the quarter-final. “We won’t be scared of pressure this week. I don’t think young lads feel pressure any more in this squad, which is weird.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Aviva outing against Saracens presents ideal opportunity to end semi-final hoodoo

Warren Gatland will announce his squad for the Lions tour on Wednesday. Photo: Andrew Boyers/Reuters

Warren Gatland will announce his squad at midday on Wednesday for the summer series

Munster’s Duncan Williams in action against Glasgow.The experienced scrum-half has proved a capable deputy to Conor Murray. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster coach has full confidence in Duncan Williams’ ability to man scrum-half berth

Munster’s Rory Scannell may be fit to face Saracens despite spraining his anke against Ulster. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

The centre’s ankle sprain which he suffered against Ulster is not as bad as first feared

Eric Trump takes to the redesigned greens at Trump International Doonbeg this week. Photograph: Eamon Ward

Eric Trump describes pride at overseeing transformation of Doonbeg golf course

England’s George Ford grabs a fistful of jersey to prevent Garry Ringrose making a clean  break at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Joe Schmidt’s team were more willing to offload in this year’s tournament

Dave Kearney: Ireland wing has made only seven appearances for Leinster this season.  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Back has endured a frustrating season with injuries and aims to make a mark against Connacht

 Jamie Heaslip will not feature for Leinster in Galway. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Ireland internationals will miss Connacht match next weekend

James Coughlan after Munster were beaten by Toulon in the 2014 Heineken Cup semi-final. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

We speak to three players who departed Irish shores for the benefit of their careers

Bordeaux-Begles’  Ian Madigan will be leaving the French Top 14 for English Championship side Bristol. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Transfers to English Premiership and French Top 14 now more difficult for Irish players

Johnny Sexton had a 100 per cent tackle success rate in the 2017 Six Nations. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Outhalf’s bravery and game management attested to by visual evidence and statistics

Leinster’s Joey Carbery celebrates with Fergus McFadden after his try. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

‘In second half, it was disappointing we didn’t respect the ball well enough at times’

Leinster’s Joey Carbery steps past Kurtley Beale of Wasps during his team’s win at the Aviva. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

But for a final pass here and knock-on there, Leinster could’ve won by a lot more at Aviva

Ian Madigan prepares to kick from the tee during during Bordeaux-Begles’  home win over Toulouse last weekend. Photograph: Nicolas Tucat/AFP/Getty Images

Bordeaux-Begles outhalf says recent poor results fail to reflect French outfit’s ability

Munster's CJ Stander is a long way ahead of anyone else in the Champions Cup in terms of carries made. Photo: Donall Farmer/Inpho

Leinster and Wasps show little difference in attack but Irish province are better in scrum

 Peter O’Mahony , fresh from his man-of-the-match performance in Ireland’s win over England, returns to captain Munster. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Rassie Erasmus names strong line-up for visit to Pro12 bottom club Zebre

Scotland’s Six Nations 2017 Player of the Year Stuart Hogg will turn out for Warriors on Saturday. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

Pat Lam excited about possibility of extending winning streak by taking a first win at Warriors

Ireland’s Jamie Heaslip, who was a late withdrawl from the game, watches Ireland beat England. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Duo both underwent procedures during the week and will miss Champions Cup match

South African referee Jaco Peyper talks to Ireland captain Rory Best during the game against New Zealand at the Aviva Stadium last November. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Romain Poite, Jérôme Garcès and Jaco Peyper to take charge of key games

Nigel Carolan will step down as Ireland under-20 coach to join the coaching staff at Connacht. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Peter Malone to take charge of underage side for Junior World Championship

Marcell Coetzee will undergo surgery to repair a significant tear to the cartilage in a knee. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

South African did not suffer recurrence of ACL that delayed him making his Ulster debut

There’s still plenty up for grabs in this season’s Pro12. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Munster well placed to secure home semi-final with their remaining fixtures

The successful Lions squad following the third Test win over Australia in Sydney in 2013. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Six Nations winners are usually rewarded with the biggest representation on tour

Cian Healy: “We [Ireland] lost two so that’s a bit annoying and there’s a lot to be worked on.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Prop looking forward to Cardiff Blues test after returning from Six Nations duty

Pictured today at the official reception at Aviva Stadium as part of a two day site visit by the World Rugby Technical Review Group is (L-R) Jack Kelly (Ireland U20 Captain), Rory Best (Ireland Captain) and Niamh Briggs (Ireland Women’s Captain). Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The World Rugby Technical Review Group are currently on a two day visit to Dublin

Andrew Conway celebrates Ireland’s win over England in their Six Nations clash at Aviva Stadium in Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Making his debut as replacement for injured Keith Earls, 25-year-old showed star quality

Simon Zebo and man of the match Peter O’Mahony celebrate after Ireland’s 13-9 win over England. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Schmidt’s side in good shape ahead of summer but win should be viewed in isolation

Jonathan Sexton and Owen Farrell in action during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan hands out the marks after an outstanding win for Joe Schmidt’s side

England’s Max Malins and Joe Cokanasiga get to grips with Gavin Mullin. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Fullback Jordan Larmour tops a list of impressive Irish performances at Donnybrook

John O’Sullivan looks at the Irish starting XV to face England

Shannon’s John Foley, in action here for Munster ‘A’, will win his first cap at blindside flanker. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Grand Slam-chasing visitors have been the outstanding side in this season’s tournament

World Rugby have announced a new yearly schedule, which will include an earlier start date for the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Changes include moving summer tours back to July and will take effect from 2020-2032

Keith Wood  scores a try as Ireland deny England a Grand Slam in 2001. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho

England travel to Lansdowne Road for fourth time seeking Six Nation’s ultimate prize

 Ireland’s  Tadhg Furlong attempts to block down a kick from Rhys Webb of Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Mistakes in disappointing defeat to Wales still rankling with powerful Ireland prop

Keith Earls sat out Ireland training on Monday with a groin problem. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Ireland winger skipped Monday’s session with a groin problem but expected to be fit

Ireland lost their second game of the Six Nations against Wales. Photograph: Inpho

John O’Sullivan looks at where Ireland need to make changes ahead of England game

Justin Tipuric helped Wales dominate the backrow battle against Ireland in Cardiff. Photograph: Stu Forster/Getty

John O’Sullivan runs the rule over a victorious Welsh side at the Millennium Stadium

Robbie Henshaw made a number of huge contributions and one key mistake as Ireland lost a bruising encounter with Wales in Cardiff. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan marks Joe Schmidt’s side after a brutal and bruising defeat in Cardiff

Jack Kelly: returns at centre for Ireland having missed the last two games due to a shoulder injury. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

If the pack can set the correct platform, the visitors have the backline to prosper

We run the rule over the Welsh selection

John O’Sullivan looks at Joe Schmidt’s Ireland selection

Johnny Sexton offloads to Garry Ringrose during Ireland’s Six Nations match against France. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Joe Schmidt's side are the standard bearers in a number of areas so far this year

Ireland’s Iain Henderson is wary of the Welsh threat from the lineout. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho.

Hooker Ken Owens hasn’t missed a single target from his throws in the Six Nations

Jack Kelly is set to return to the Ireland U20 side fore Saturday’s game away to Wales. Photograph: Cathal Noonan/Inpho

Fullback has recovered from shoulder injury ahead of Saturday’s game

Jared Payne scores a try during the Guinness Pro 12 game against Benetton Treviso at the  Kingspan Stadium. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho/Presseye

Ulster back suffered bruising in win over Treviso

Ireland’s Andrew Trimble sustained a hand injury during Ulster’s Pro12 victory over Benetton Treviso on Friday. Photograph: Matt Mackey/Inpho.

Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt must do without Andrew Trimble and Ultan Dillane on Friday

Leinster’s Ross Byrne in action against Scarlets during the Guinness PRO12 clash at the  RDS Arena. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Powerful second-half display sends out a strong message to other Pro12 contenders

Joey Carbery scores a try, Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The home side were imperious as they put the Welsh visitors to the sword in Dublin

Ireland’s CJ Stander and Alun-Wyn Jones of Wales compete for a line-out in last year’s Six Nations game. Ireland will look to target the Welsh set-piece this years. Photograph: Colm O’Neill/Inpho

Hooker Ken Owens has 100% success rate in the Six Nations but Devin Toner is in form

 Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony:“We’ve got a big 11 days to get ready for a big international.” Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Munster man wants to play for province at weekend, but will abide by Schmidt’s decision

Simon Zebo signs autographs for young fans during Monday’s open training session at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Flanker happy with French win but believes sloppy mistakes must be eliminated

Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray  scoring a try in his side’s  19-9 win at the Aviva Stadium Dublin. Photograph: Eric Luke

Scrumhalf’s kicking prowess and ability to run were core constituents in Ireland’s success

Ireland’s Keith Earls and Conor Murray celebrate winning against France in their Six Nations clash. Photo: Billy Stcikland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan analyses the good, bad and indifferent from a tight victory in Dublin

Jared Payne: back from injury and will start on the bench against Zebre. Photograph: Darren Kidd/Presseye/Inpho

Les Kiss will be looking for bonus points in three upcoming games against Italian clubs

The Irish players  limber up at a squad training session at Carton House, Kildare. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

What the French will face at the Aviva Stadium

The French side go through some drills at the Arboras Stadium, Nice,  as they prepare to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photograph: Reuters

What Joe Schmidt’s side will face at the Avivia Stadium

Ireland’s Caelan Doris goes past Florian Dufour of France during their Six Nations clash at Donnybrook. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Caelan Doris, Tommy O’Brien and Jordan Larmour were excellent in the Six Nations win

Ireland squad member Ultan Dillane forms part of an experienced core to the Connacht pack. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Lam names Delahunt, Cannon and Fox-Matamua in starting 15 for trip to Treviso

Tommy O’Brien celebrates scoring a try for Ireland under-20s against their Italian counterparts at Stadio Enrico Chersoni in Prato on February 10th. Photograph: Matteo Ciambelli/Inpho.

Injuries force coach Nigel Carolan’s hand for crunch game against France

Niyi Adeolokun: has togged out in 19 matches for Pat Lam’s side since the start of the season, racking up an impressive 1,452 minutes of game time. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Connacht winger has had more game time this year than any player in four provinces

Tadhg Furlong meets the press. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland tighthead rejects talk of feeling the pressure ahead of make-or-break match

Ireland  coach Nigel Carolan talks to his players after their win over Italy. Photograph: Inpho

Ireland coach names his Under-20s side to face France on Friday night

Ireland’s Jonathan Sexton in training at Carton House this morning. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland management also say that Conor Murray and Andrew Trimble are fit to play

Marcell Coetzee: the former Springbok international had an outstanding debut against Edinburgh. Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Ulster v Glasgow Warriors, Kingspan stadium (3.0, live on Sky Sports 1)

Connacht coach Pat Lam: “We’re very aware of where we are in this competition and what we need to do.” Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Connacht v Newport Gwent Dragons, Sportsground (7.35, live on TG4)

Munster’sJean Kleyn: will miss the next eight to 10 weeks with a neck injury.Photograph: Inpho

Pro12 preview: Ospreys v Munster, Liberty stadium (Saturday 5.15, live on Sky Sports)

The French team before  facing Ireland in 2014. Photograph: Inpho

France only country to hold outright winning record against Irish in Six Nations

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