Joe Schmidt: “Pete is smart as well as tough, and he’s athletic, which makes him the lineout operator that he is.”

Ireland coach pays tribute to Peter O’Mahony ahead of first All Blacks test

“What the Lions are doing is very much a Saracens approach, to put a brand on it, and Saracens don’t get tipped over very often.”

Former Australia coach Robbie Deans expecting a tight series

Ulster’s Jacob Stockdale will make his second Test start against Japan. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Andrew Conway moves to fullback with Jacob Stockdale recalled for his second cap

Paddy Jackson: hasn’t missed  a kick atgoal for Ireland since Murrayfield last February. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Luke Marshall to come in at centre as full-strength Ireland face Japan in second Test

  Greg Feek: “I heard it this morning and a few of us just went, ‘Jeez, again?’ You guys probably thought the same thing. I feel sorry for Rassie in some ways.”

Ireland scrum coach can understand rumours but ‘feels sorry’ for Munster coach

“If it is true then we’re all proud of him here. For his family particularly. We’ll be watching with real interest in terms of how he leads the team.”

“He doesn’t say much but things he does say prickle the hair on the back of your neck.”

Ireland’s Paddy Jackson kicks a conversion in Saturday’s win over Japan. Photograph: Inpho

The Ulster 10 is the only fit Irish outhalf left on the squad, after Joey Carbery’s injury

Keith Earls was impressive again as Ireland routed Japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Keith Earls inspires seven-try rout but discussion revolves around Gatland’s call-ups

Jack Conan: “I definitely feel the last two games, I’ve put my hand up and shown I can play at this level and I’m ready to push on.” Photograph: Atsushi Tomura/Getty Images

‘I like showing that I’m able to play at this level. I think while I’ll always have a bit of a grudge, and something to prove’

Girvan Dempsey has been shadowing Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Flying back now Leinster’s backs coach and has been shadowing Joe Schmidt in Japan

Ireland’s Keith Earls scores the first try of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘For our guys, if they have missed an opportunity because of the logistics, it is tough’

Ireland’s Keith Earls scores his team’s seventh try of the game. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Porous Japan defence made to pay for errors as Joe Schmidt’s team score seven tries

Ireland rugby squad en route to  Hamamatsu. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘The locals are weirdly helpful. They’ll board a train with you to ensure safe passage’

Dan Leavy:  threatening to become Europe’s king of the breakdown. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Leinster scrumhalf makes his first international start along with Conway and Scannell

Cian Healy during Ireland training in Tokyo, Japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Schmidt ‘excited’ to see how inexperienced squad handle fatigue with eye on World Cup

Simon Zebo starts for Ireland against japan. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Coach admits preparations have been brief with tourists suffering from jet-lag

Ireland players and management pose for a photo with sumo wrestlers at Shikoroyama-beya in Koto-ward in Tokyo. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Simon Zebo and Andrew Conway also likely to feature in strong side for first Test

Niall Scannell in action for Ireland against the USA in New Jersey. “There’s no ‘touring’ mentality about it. We’d always go about our business.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster hooker relishing the prospect of Test duty for Ireland against Japan this weekend

Kicking coach Richie Murphy:  “Japan have turned themselves into a really good side. Play very fast and loose. “Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland coach Richie Murphy well aware of Japan’s threat in two Test series

Dr Martin Raftery, chief medical officer for World Rugby: ‘Dr Omalu is entitled to have an opinion but that’s exactly what it is, his opinion.’ Photo: Getty Images

Medical officer responded to claims by Dr Bennet Omalu that children shouldn’t play

 Joey Carbery has been ruled out of the tests in Japan with an ankle injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster outhalf sustained ankle injury during win over the USA last weekend

Joe Schmidt talks to the Ireland players during training ahead of the USA test last week. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘This tour is a fantastic learning and working experience for young players’

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt: “There are guys on standby, but what happens is when they go away on holiday as they normally would, they just take their boots and their gumshield.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ireland coach says he is not going to give Joey Carbery a hard time after USA Eagles match

James Ryan  goes over for Ireland’s seventh try during the Test match against the US Eagles at the Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Young outhalf endures kicking nightmare as Ireland run in nine tries against hapless Eagles

USA outhalf AJ MacGinty passes the ball during Ireland’s win in New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘Playing in a global competition, something like Pro12, would be superb’

Joey Carbery goes off with an ankle injury. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Outhalf rolled his ankle during win over the US Eagles in New Jersey on Saturday

 Ireland’s James Ryan scores a try just after his introduction in the second half. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s side open their summer tour with comfortable win in New Jersey

Ireland’s Joey Carbery gets in some kicking practice at the Red Bull Arena, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Squad fully prepared for whatever the US Eagles can muster in New Jersey

Ronan O’Gara with Joey Carbery during a training session in  Hoboken, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Former Ireland outhalf is enjoying learning from Joe Schmidt as he shadows him on US tour

 All Black captain Kieran Read performs the haka before the game against Wales last summer at Eden Park  in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph:  Phil Walter/Getty Images

Former Ireland outhalf says ‘there’s a lot of hesitancy’ in Lions’ attacking game

Former Connacht outhalf AJ MacGinty starts for the US Eagles against Ireland. Photo: Inpho

AJ MacGinty will win his 12th cap at outhalf when teams meet in New Jersey on Saturday

 AJ MacGinty: the Sale Sharks outhalf will pull the strings for the US Eagles against Ireland on Saturday.  Photograph: Jan Kruger/Getty Images

US Eagles outhalf’s journey came via Blackrock College, Connacht and Sale

Jacob Stockdale trains with the Ireland squad ahead of the Test match against the US Eagles at the Red Bull Arena on Saturday.     Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Jacob Stockdale on the wing with four set to make Ireland Test debut from bench

Jacob Stockdale (left) will make his Ireland debut against the US Eagles in New Jersey on Saturday night while James Ryan has been named among the replacements. Photograph:  Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Dave Heffernan, Andrew Porter, James Ryan and Rory Scannell could make debuts off the bench

Keith Earls: “It’s a different world now. They don’t fear as much as we did.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Munster veteran sees the younger version of himself among his fellow Ireland tourists

Joey Carbery during a goal kicking session at the Stevens Institute, Hoboken, New Jersey. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Andrew Porter, Jacob Stockdale and James Ryan could all win their first caps

Cian Healy, Garry Ringrose and Keith Earls in New Jersey. Photograph: Inpho

Joe Schmidt’s young squad are closeted in the shadow of Manhattan’s sky line

Ireland prop Cian Healy: unsurprised he was not selected for Lions tour given his lack of game time. Photograph:Ryan Byrne/Inpho

29-year-old loosehead has not played full 80 minutes since before 2013 Lions tour

 Simon Easterby: “We are two years out from a World Cup. This is a great starting point for a lot of these young players to get an opportunity and to spend time with them.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Simon Easterby: ‘There’s a lot of excitement with some of the youngsters involved’

Dr Bennet Omalu: the forensic pathologist turned the pugilist moniker “punch drunk” into chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), following the autopsy of  Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman Mike Webster’s brain. Photograph: Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Dr Bennet Omalu says children should not be playing rugby or heading the ball in soccer

 Forensic pathologist and neuropathologist Dr Bennet Omalu: “All it takes is one season, one concussion and your child’s brain is permanently damaged.” Photograph:  Pete Marovich/Getty

Leading neuropathologist calls for contact sport with risk of head blows to be limited to adults

Joe Schmidt: “The door is never closed on a player playing externally. But it becomes a very difficult calculation.” Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

There is no place for the likes of Donnacha Ryan, Gareth Steenson or Tadhg Beirne

 Sonny Bill Williams in action for the Blues, the Lions’ second opponents of the tour. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

Warren Gatland’s side must face all five of New Zealand’s red hot domestic franchises

Munster’s Keith Earls and his daughters Ella May and Laurie after the game. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Director of rugby believes his players have come a long way in turbulent season on and off pitch

British and Irish Lions team captain Sam Warburton training with Rory Best. Photograph: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Gavin Cummiskey profiles the 41-men charged with the task of taking it to the All Blacks

Scarlets’ Steff Evans is sent off by referee Marius Mitrea at the RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Winger was sent off in win over Leinster as Scarlets reached their first ever final

Munster coach Rassie Erasmus:  “Hopefully it’s third time lucky . . . We are happy that the final is in Ireland.” Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Lions now have 30 of their 41-man squad in place, but several players have injury worries

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen at the RDS for Friday night’s Pro12 semi-final defeat. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Three seasons and no trophy, Leinster need silverware in 2018 or something’s got to give

Leinster prop Jack McGrath grimaces in pain as he leaves the field after suffering an arm injury in the Guinness Pro 12 semi-final defeat to Scarlets. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Loosehead prop will have X-ray to see extent of damage suffered in semi-final defeat

Scarlets’ Gareth Davies celebrates on his way to scoring their third try in the  Guinness Pro 12 semi-final at the  RDS. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Welsh side deserve their place in final as thoughts turn to injured Irish Lions players

Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac will seek to halt Leinster’s undefeated streak at home in Friday’s Pro12 semi-final. Photograph: Kevin Barnes/Inpho

Scarlets coach hopeful Leinster castaway Tadhg Beirne will shine in Pro12 semi-final

Leinster’s Rhys Ruddock comes up against with Jonathan Evans and Aaron Shingler of Scarlets in March. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Matchday squad shows Schmidt does not dictate selection for season-defining games

Italy head coach Conor O’Shea: “I absolutely agree with it and feel it is something that should have been in place a long time ago.” Photograph: Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Conor O’Shea supports move to ensure top seven in Pro12 qualify from next season

Joe Schmidt has named eight uncapped players for Ireland’s summer tour of the USA and Japan. Photograph: Atsushi Tomura/Getty

Eight uncapped players selected in 31-man squad while Donnacha Ryan misses out

Jamie Heaslip: the Ireland number eight is in contention to travel to the US and Japan. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ronan O’Gara, Girvan Dempsey and Felix Jones to be part of coaching team

Conor Murray has been voted  player of the year by Rugby Players Ireland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Tadhg Furlong is also voted supporters’ player of the year by 'Irish Times' readers

Ireland’s head coach Joe Schmidt: paid compliments to Japan’s recent progress. Photograph: Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images

‘Good, bad and ugly’ the coach’s reaction to being pooled with Scotland and hosts Japan

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt with Japan’s head coach Jamie Joseph  and Scott Johnson, the performance director of Scotland, at the Rugby World Cup 2019 pool draw  in Kyoto. Photograph: Dave Rogers/AFP/Getty Images

Analysis: Possible last eight meeting with Springboks would not faze Joe Schmidt’s side

 Andrew Trimble: “Maybe our skill level isn’t good enough? Maybe our mental resilience when we are up against it needs to be worked on?  Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Lions rested for Leinster clash as province conclude another disappointing campaign

Ulster’s Rory Best and Iain Henderson will not play against Leinster this weekend. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Payne, Best and Henderson rested for final Pro12 game of the season

Robbie Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, CJ Stander and Conor Murray are shortlisted for Players’ Player award. Photograph: Inpho

Rob Henshaw, Tadhg Furlong, CJ Stander, Conor Murray vie for Player’s player gong

Just three of the players that lined up for Ireland against Namibia in Bordeaux at the World Cup 10 years ago are still playing. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images

Veterans of 2007 retain influence as Ireland’s first fully professional generation emerges

“It will be very, very tight,” said Cullen when asked if he expects them back playing this season.

Injured duo unlikely to feature again for Leinster this season

Darkness in the RDS after the floodlights failed during Leinster’s Pro12 win over Glasgow. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Despite a late floodlight failure, Leo Cullen’s side held on to remain top of the Pro12 table

Marnitz Boshoff is back at outhalf for Connacht on Saturday night. Photograph: Inpho

‘Next two games present a great opportunity to prepare for the qualification playoffs’

Ulster’s Stuart McCloskey impressed off the bench against Munster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ulster travel to Swansea knowing their Pro12 playoff destiny remains in their own hands

Saracens’ Billy Vunipola breaks through during his side’s victory over Munster in the Champions Cup semi-final at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images)

Murray’s absence keenly felt as champions run out deserved winners in brutal semi-final

Dejected Munster players after the final whistle in the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Ipho

Coach’s decision to stay put for another two years provides huge boost for province

 Rassie Erasmus will not be leaving Munster in the summer. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty

Niall Scannell reveals South African has told squad he will remain at Thomond Park

 Maro Itoje looks on during a Saracens training session  in St Albans, England ahead of Saturday’s Champions Cup semi-final against Munster at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Mark McCall has played key role in helping build north London rugby powerhouse

Shane Horgan and Brian O’Driscoll celebrate defeating Toulouse in France in a 2006 Heinieken Cup quarter-final. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Toulouse breakthrough and 2012 semi-final provide good memories ahead of Clermont clash

Clermont Auvergne’s forwards coach Jono Gibbes, who is set to become Ulster’s new coach

French club keenly aware of big games lost ahead of Champions Cup clash with Leinster

Leinster are not expected to appeal Cian Healy’s ban. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster prop was cited for charging into a ruck in Pro12 derby against Connacht

 Leinster’s Cian Healy tackles Dave Heffernan of Connacht at the Sportsground. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

A Pro12 disciplinary hearing will be held in Edinburgh on Wednesday afternoon

Young Munster’s Dan Goggin in action for Munster A in the British & Irish Cup quarter-final against Ulster A in Cork last month. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Club unhappy at having to field weakened team, after Dublin side refuses to reschedule

Simon Zebo gets swallowed up by Ulster’s Stuart Olding, Paddy Jackson and Andrew Trimble at Thomond Park. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony’s relaxed attitude bodes well for province ahead of European semi-final

Conor Murray is a major doubt for Munster’s Champions Cup semi-final against Saracens. Photograph:    Donall Farmer/Inpho

Rassie Erasmus admits scrumhalf’s recovery from shoulder stinger has been slow

Munster’s Angus Lloyd scores a try despite an attempted tackle  from Ulster’s Sean Reidy  during the Guinness Pro 12 game at  Thomond Park. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rassie Erasmus’s side set for home semi-final after Thomond Park victory

Bundee Aki: the Connacht star has signed up as an ambassador for Kinetica Sports’ partnership with Hell & Back who run the the 7 & 12km adventure race events in Bray. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Samoan excited about the arrival this summer of former Chiefs coach Kieran Keane

Bundee Aki is not making any decision on his international plans at the moment. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Centre wants to concentrate on Connacht’s end of season

 Clermont Auvergne forwards coach Jono Gibbes is looking forward to teaming up with Les Kiss. Photograph: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Former All Black will arrive at Ulster having thrived out of comfort zone at Clermont

 In a prematch press conference, Kerry manager Éamonn Fitzmaurice cited a number of examples of what he described as Dublin’s “hard edge”. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Fitzmaurice defends prematch comments about Dublin’s physicality after tight victory

Ronan O’Gara has suggested Leinster hooker Sean Cronin could be a dark horse for the Lions tour. Photograph: Simon King/Inpho

Dan Biggar’s comments after Ospreys loss to Leinster bring HIA protocols into question

Stuart Lancaster has signed a new two-year deal with Leinster. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Stuart Lancaster signs two-year deal, backs coach Girvan Dempsey a one-year deal

Leinster’s  Joey Carbery  in full flight against Joe Simpson of Wasps during the  Champions Cup quarter-final at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

‘I feel we prepared really well this week. We were really sharp in training,’ Carbery said

Joey Carbery celebrates with Fergus McFadden after his try in Leinster’s Champions Cup win over Wasps. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Sexton and Carbery guide side to last four and offer exciting glimpse of things to come

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton is tackled by Kearnan Myall of Wasps during their Champions Cup quarter-final tie. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Leinster coach was disappointed with some late hits from Wasps on the outhalf

Wasps’ Willie Le Roux scores a try but has it disallowed by referee Nigel Owens during their Champions Cup clash with Leinster. Photo: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

The Wasps coach did say that his player should have just touched the ball down

Marty Moore of Wasps in full flow: “Regardless of what’s happened, I’m happier for being here than I would have been back home.” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

The prop’s move to Wasps cost him his Ireland place but there have been benefits

Isa Nacewa: “There is a great feeling around Leinster at the minute.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leo Cullen challenges players to step up as Premiership leaders arrive in Dublin

 Jack Conan  missed last weekend’s 22-21 win over Cardiff with a tight calf. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Backrow set to return after missing last weekend's win over Cardiff due to a tight calf

 Jimmy Gopperth: “We just have to be mentally on because it is going to be a knockout game of international standard.” Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Former Leinster outhalf braced for a massive challenge from his former team-mates

Republic of Ireland full back  Cyrus Christie closes down Iceland’s Ari Skulason during the friendly international  match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Séamus Coleman’s plight on the minds of Ireland’s players at the Aviva

Republic of Ireland’s John Egan beats Iceland’s Kristjan Finnbogason to the ball during their friendly encounter at the Aviva Stadium. Photo: Niall Carson/PA

Gavin Cummiskey runs the rule over Martin O’Neill’s men after their disappointing loss

Eddie Jones expects 15 of his England squad to make this summer’s Lion tour - with owen Farrell among the front runners. Photograph: Shaun Botterill/Getty

England coach: ‘They performed above themselves, we performed below ourselves’

Johnny Sexton played the full 80 minutes as Ireland stopped England from securing the Grand Slam. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Opposition blueprint for beating Ireland seems to centre around stopping outhalf

Maro Itoje grabs Johnny Sexton’s jersey during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Kilcoyne/Reuters

Ireland captain repeatedly asked referee Jerome Garces about English late hits

Ireland’s Peter O’Mahony wins a lineout ahead of England’s Maro Itoje during the Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

Joe Schmidt refutes suggestions that late backrow change was tactical

Maro Itoje was the second best shot-putting schoolboy in England. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

England prodigy is captain-material and will seek to tick off Dublin on way to greatness

Ireland’s Jenny Murphy  runs at the  England defence during the Women’s Six Nations match against England at Donnybrook. Photograph:   James Crombie/Inpho

Ireland had their opportunities at a packed Donnybrook before late scoring spree

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