Rob Kearney: A couple of loose kicks aside he was the personification of calm collection under the high ball and that infuses confidence in those around you. Rating: 7

15 Rob KearneyA couple of loose kicks aside he was the personification of calm collection under the high ball and that infuses confidence in those aro(...)

 Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt talks to his team before the Six Nations game against France. The only change to the side that won that game is  because of injury. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Joe Schmidt is expected to keep changes to a minimum when he announces the Ireland starting XV and replacements to face England at lunchtime today for(...)

Jared Payne and Cian Healy in conversation after a training session at Carton House. Photograph: Alex Connolly/Inpho 3:06

Cian Healy sighs what seems like a belly full of air and screws up his face. His last full game of rugby, well, it’s not really somewhere he wants to (...)

Johnny Sexton was named man of the match in Ireland’s 18-11 Six nations win over France at the Aviva Stadium.  (Photograph: REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton)

Ireland player ratingsRob Kearney 7Made nine carries for 53 metres. A jarring, wrap tackle on Scott Spedding earned an important 24th minute penalty a(...)

France’s centre Mathieu Bastareaud is tackled by Scotland hooker Ross Ford  at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, nearParis. Photograph: Miguel Medina / AFP / Getty Images

It may seem the number of carries in a rugby match, and who carried the ball, is simply a bald figure that shows who made the most yards, or, who was(...)

Players push in a scrum during the Six Nations  match between Italy and Ireland at the Olympic Stadium in Rome. Photograph: Filippo Monteforte/AFP/Getty Images

I try not to speak negatively about rugby. It has given me so much and I have seen it give so generously to others.There is a saying, that your best m(...)

Tommy O’Donnell breaks away from the Italian defence to score Ireland’s second try at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty 2:48

I start where I left off on Friday – patient play with green grass field position in mind, allied to Italy’s non-engagement in the breakdown, will pro(...)

Outhalf  Ian Keatley solid after a nervy start in Rome.  Photograph:  Jamie McDonald/Getty Images 2:48

Ireland’s victory in Rome will help to assuage the disappointment of an imprecise performance that was long on perspiration but short on inspiration(...)

Ireland outhalf Ian Keatley practices his set-pieces at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on the eve of the Six Nations encounter with Italy. Much will depend on his kicking in the clash against the Azzurri. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho.

Italy v Ireland, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, 2.30pmThe rain may have been slightly dampening the spirits of the initial Irish contingent of supporters cum (...)

“Two hours each morning, two hours each evening, ‘three on, one off, double splits’. The gym was the one place I had control. I didn’t have to spea(...)