Mike McCarthy: “If you don’t front up physically, if you come second best you are not going to win the game.” Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Straw clutching down Carton House way. A staid media afternoon before the daunting Welsh opener should not be taken as reflecting the mood in the Ire(...)

Ireland captain Rory Best at squad training. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Seán O’Brien has emerged as a significant doubt for Ireland’s opening defence of their RBS Six Nations title against Wales at the Aviva Stadium. The(...)

CARDIFF, WALES - MARCH 14: Ireland player Jamie Heaslip gets to grips with Alun Wyn Jones of Wales during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Ireland at Millennium Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Cardiff, Wales. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Super Saturday was indeed beyond superlative, but it does look a rather long time ago now. In glorious mid-March conditions the day rained points (2(...)

 Rory Best  runs at Simone Favaro of Italy during the 2015 Rugby World Cup. “To now captain Ireland going into the Six Nations is a massive thing for me and my family.” Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Spare a thought for Rory Best. There is probably no harder task than to succeed Paul O’Connell as captain, who had effectively succeeded Brian O’Drisc(...)

Rory Best: Candidacy will not have been harmed by reports of his half-time rallying call which contributed to Ulster’s comeback from 23-0 down to win in Oyannax . Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Rory Best is the odds-on favourite to be named as the next captain of the Irish rugby team when Joe Schmidt announces a squad of around 36 or 37 playe(...)

Leinster’s Peter Dooley chases Bath’s Semesa Rokoduguni at the RDS. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster scrum coach John Fogarty felt something akin to paternal anxiety last week with Peter Dooley, James Tracy, Tadhg Furlong and Ross Molony mak(...)

Leinster’s Garry Ringrose in action against Munster at Thomond Park. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The real shame is Robbie Henshaw will not be running this last time for Connacht against Leinster (or just the latest time if you believe in western m(...)

Toulon’s Drew Mitchell is denied a try by Leinster’s Seán Cronin and Isa Nacewa. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

This was Leo Cullen’s mulligan. Everyone knows Leinster are in a period of rebuilding without the correct tools to actually do so in this new European(...)

Johnny Sexton tackles Ma’a Nonu during Leinster’s Champions Cup defeat to Toulon at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster 16 Toulon 20 The other week Leinster had a bad time. Thrashed about on the French Riviera, a mere six days later they morphed into enforcers(...)

Ian Madigan: Of the remaining provincially contracted players, he is the player Leinster are most at risk of losing. Photograph: RyanByrne/Inpho

Leinster could do with a win on Saturday for many reasons. While, realistically, it may not sufficiently atone for previous misdeeds and lead to qual(...)