A view of Ireland’s proposal. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘This is as big as it gets for us. We’re so proud of our country that we will put our best foot forward in every regard’

 Ireland’s Rugby World Cup    bid ambassador Brian O’Driscoll; Taoiseach Leo Varadkar; and Ireland 2023 oversight board chairman   Dick Spring. Photograph:  Billy Stickland/Inpho

French president distances himself from process involving 30-minute presentation

Rob Kearney: “It’s all about playing. When you are missing out on that buzz and the adrenalin every single week, that is the hardest part.” Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster full-back believes he still has plenty to offer, despite long list of recent setbacks

Nick Timoney in action for Ulster last year. The academy player will make his first appearance of the season tonight. Photograph: Brian Little/Inpho

Nick Timoney, Iain Henderson and Darren Cave among players included in squad

 Josh van der Flier wins his 50th cap for Leinster against the Cheetahs tonight. Photograph: Ryan Wilkisky/Inpho

South African outfit scoring tries but also conceding too many in early outings to date

The only change to last week’s starting Munster  XV sees Rory Scannell named for his first start of the new season. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Head coach Dave Rennie’s in-form Warriors will enjoy backing of a sold-out Scotstoun

Robbie Henshaw in action during the  Lions’s 34-6 victory over Chiefs  at Waikato Stadium on June 20, 2017 in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Centre reflects on debut tour ahead of return to action for Leinster next week

Seán O’Brien in action for the British and Irish Lions during  the third Test against New Zealand  at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph:  James Crombie/Inpho

My views were honest and genuine, Irish flanker responds in clarifying statement

Lions forward Sean O’Brien in action during the third Test against the All Blacks, at Eden Park, Auckland. Photograph: James Crombie

If coaches had a better attacking game plan Lions could have won series 3-0, says flanker

IRFU CEO Philip Browne:  “We have put a really, really forceful proposal on the table to Rugby World Cup.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Irish bid has promised to exceed surplus of €170 million-plus generated by 2015 event

Iain Henderson, seen here in action for the Lions against the Hurricanes, could make his seasonal reappearance off the bench against the Dragons. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images.

Secondrow could feature off the bench against Dragons on Friday night

Pat Geraghty: Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Popular figure served as press officer with Leinster and then Munster

Leinster’s Joey Carbery scores a try against the Southern Kings in front of a few hundred people in the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday. Photograph: Ryan Wilkisky/Inpho

Empty seats and heavy defeats make bad optics for the Southern Kings and Cheetahs so far

The Lions and New Zealand players pose together after the series was shared following the drawn third Test.  Photograph: Jason Reed/Reuters

English clubs’ attempts to curtail or undermine the tours must be faced down

British and Irish Lions and New Zealand All Blacks’s teams on the podium after at the presentation of the series trophy. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Our rugby correspondent hands out the marks after drawn series against All Blacks

New Zealand’s coach Steve Hansen  speaks with British and Irish Lions’ coach Warren Gatland after the third  Test, which ended in a 15-15 draw. Photograph: Michael Bradley/AFP/Getty Images

Coach says he is ‘definitely finishing up’ with Wales after the 2019 Rugby World Cup

All Blacks’ Jordie Barrett  is tackled by “Lions of the Tour” Jonathan Davies  in the third Test match which ended in a 15-15 draw. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Steve Hansen’s side will walk away with more regrets after thrilling finale at Eden Park

 British and Irish Lions forward Tadhg Furlong in action during the final Test which ended in a 15-15 draw at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph: Nigel Marple/Reuters

Ireland forward says being serenaded with a chant devoted to him is ‘pretty cool’

Referee Romain Poite explains to All Blacks captain Kieran Read his decision not to award a penalty in the closing stages   of the third Test against the Lions at Eden park in Auckland. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Officials missed the fact that Kieran Read was three yards in front of the ball at restart

British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland wears a red nose during a press conference after the third  Test match at Eden Park in Auckland. Photograph:   Marty Melville/AFP/Getty Images

British and Irish Lions coach praises his side for securing drawn series with All Blacks

Steve Hansen: “We’ve ended up with a hand on the trophy each which is a bit like kissing your sister. There’s not a lot in it for anybody.”

‘We all know what happened, and we all know what should have happened’

Romain Poite blows the final whistle as the series is drawn. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Warren Gatland’s side weather ferocious All Blacks storm to earn a 15-15 draw in Auckland

“A massive amount of work has gone into it and a couple of the six weeks I had before the tour probably stood to me. I did an awful amount of work and conditioning and fitness and strengthening and everything in that time. I feel very good. I feel very fast and strong.” Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland and Lions backrow: ‘This is the biggest game I’ve ever been involved in’

Lions forward Sean O’Brien in action against the All Blacks  at Westpac Stadium on July 1st. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

New Zealand media’s treatment of Warren Gatland is disgraceful, says coach’s assistant

 Vinny Hammond records a Lions training session in Queenstown. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Devil is in the detail for Irish Lions working behind the scenes in New Zealand

Lions squad training at QBE Stadium in Auckland, New Zealand. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The third test is the hardest, but Lions have tries in them if opportunities come

Jonathan Sexton training in Auckland. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

People were saying he couldn’t survive a Lions tour. He is delighted to prove that he can

Pundits on New Zealand programme ‘Break Down’ sugggested Mako Vunipola should have been sent off duting the Lions’ win over the All Blacks in Wellington. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Panel on ‘Break Down’ can’t get over O’Brien decision and accuse Lions of spoiling tactics

Jordie Barrett will vie with elder brother Beauden for kicking duties against the Lions on Saturday. Photograph: Phil Walter/Getty

Saturday’s defining Auckland Test a family-affair for Barrett’s Beauden and Jordie

Liam Williams during a Lions training session  at the Queenstown Event Centre on Wednesday. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Wales' Liam Williams has been retained at fullback despite concern over leg injury

 Scott Barrett, Jordie Barrett and Beauden Barrett are all in the New Zealand squad for Saturday’s match against the British & Irish Lions. All three featured in last month’s Test against Samoa. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

20-year-old brother of Beauden comes in at fullback; one of three changes in backline

British and Irish Lions Jamie George during the second Test in Wellington. He said the series decider is “going to be a fantastic occasion and one we will never forget”. Photograph:  David Davies/PA Wire

Saracens hooker says Lions will have to go to the ‘next level’ against hurting All Blacks

Éanna Falvey, the Lions team doctor, pictured during the trip to Queenstown. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Irish doctor believes durability has been attained through high-level sessions

New Zealand’s Malakai Fekitoa celebrates  with Anton Lienert-Brown and Israel Dagg after scoring a  try against Ireland at the Aviva Stadium to avenge their Chicago loss two weeks earlier. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

All Blacks enter series decider in vulnerable state having lost Smith, Crotty and Williams

Lions forward Tadhg Furlong  is tackled by the All Blacks’ Jerome Kaino  during the second Test match.  Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

In-form forward expecting another ‘brutal’ affair as Lions seek to win series decider

Sean O’Brien arriving at a judicial hearing at the New Zealand Rugby offices in Wellington on Sunday. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Tullow Tank’s presence in final Test means Gatland can retain victorious back-row

 Lions’ Conor Murray in action scoring a try on Saturday. Photograph: Anthony Phelps/Reuters

It was a far from perfect performance, but Gatland’s ‘pro-active’ selection was vindicated

 Alun Wyn Jones  shakes hands with TJ Perenara  after winning thesecond Test in Wellington. Photograph:  Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Scheduled break may seem curious but Lions following a familiar script to previous years

All Blacks’ Sonny Bill Williams is shown a red card by referee Jerome Garces during the second Test against the British & Irish Lions. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Referee Jerome Garces left with no option but to make it a third All Black red card

Sean O’Brien in action against New Zealand on Saturday. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Irish flanker was cited for dangerous play but cleared in disciplinary hearing

Lions coach Warren Gatland leaves the pitch following his side’s Test win over New Zealand in Wellington. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Lions coach said demonising in New Zealand press has helped to motivate his team

 Sonny Bill Williams shoulder charges Anthony Watson  to earn a red card in the first half. Photo: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

All Blacks reduced to 14-men in 25th minute as Sonny Bill Williams sent off

 Brothers Jordie, Scott and Beauden Barrett of New Zealand pose for a photo with their parents Kevin and Robyn Barrett after they all featured against Samoa last month. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho

Kevin ‘Smiley’ Barrett recalls his family’s time in Meath where his sons played GAA

Jonathan Sexton gets in some kicking practice at the  Westpac Stadium, Wellington.  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Ireland and Leinster outhalf looking forward to starting alongside Owen Farrell for the first time

 Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton discuss tactics with Rob Howley at Lions training in Porirua, Wellington. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

With the same pack on duty, New Zealand set to replicate awesome intensity levels

 Sam Warburton: “I still love playing for my club, Cardiff Blues, and Wales but the Lions is what it’s all about for me.”  Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Lions captain says leading out team against All Blacks the biggest honour to date

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has said the Kiwi media’s treatment of Warren Gatland has been ‘disappointing.’ Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty

On clown-gate: ‘But to ridicule someone is not right. It’s a bit disappointing, really’

CJ Stander has been preferred to Peter O’Mahony for the Lions 23 for the second Test aganist the All Blacks. Photograph: David Davies

Gatland leaves first Test captain out in Wellington, Henshaw and North out of tour

Owen Farrell and Johnny Sexton start at 12 and 10 respectively for the Lions on Saturday morning. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Peter O’Mahony makes way for Sam Warburton with Owen Farrell at inside centre

WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND - JUNE 27:  Iain Henderson of the Lions looks on during the match between the Hurricanes and the British & Irish Lions at Westpac Stadium on June 27, 2017 in Wellington, New Zealand.  (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Coach suggests Henderson’s yellow might cost him Test place against All Blacks

 Iain Henderson  is shown the yellow card as Lions team captain Rory Best talks to referee Roman Poite during the match against the   Hurricanes  at Westpac Stadium. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Secondrow well aware of the need for a big performance in advance of later Tests

Warren Gatland, the Lions head coach, after the draw with the Hurricanes in Wellington. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

The Lions coach said he didn’t bring on any of the six players due to criticism he received

Hurricanes’ Vaea Fifita celebrates scoring the equalising try against the Lions at the Westpac Stadium, Wellington. Photo: David Davies/PA Wire

Warren Gatland’s side let winning position slip after Iain Henderson was sent to sinbin

Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray kicks the ball as New Zealand loose forward Jerome Kaino dives towards him. Photo: Mark Baker/AP

Kaino was seen diving at Murray as he box-kicked away, rolling into his standing leg

The front page of the New Zealand Herald sports section on Tuesday morning after Warren Gatland’s comments about the All Blacks not playing fairly.

Paper has mocked up coach as circus clown, previously doing so with Michael Cheika

Codie Taylor of the All Blacks dives in to score a try during the first Test match against the British & Irish Lions at Eden Park  in Auckland. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Individual brilliance from Codie Taylor and Beauden Barrett sum up difference in skill

The forwards  huddle during the Captain’s Run ahead of the Lions’ game against  the Wellington Hurricanes on Tuesday. Photograph:  Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Warren Gatland has shown that form will be recognised for New Zealand selections

Warren Gatland said that the All Blacks took cheap shots at Conor Murray during the first Test. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho

Gatland, said Hansen, had taken gloss off great Test match and Lions performance

Lions coach Warren Gatland and New Zealand All Blacks coach Steve Hansen shake hands before the start of the first Test in Auckland. Photo: Michael Bradley/Getty Images

‘As a New Zealander I would expect he would know the New Zealand psyche,’ Hansen said

 Ben Smith of the All Blacks is tackled by Lions duo Alun Wyn Jones and Owen Farrell  during the first Test at Eden Park. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

Maro Itoje is also likely to start the second Test against All Blacks next weekend

Jonathan Davies: “If we are more clinical and we put more pressure on them, who knows? They might start to tighten up, and the pressure comes on them then.” Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Wales star confident the tourists can benefit from lessons learned in first Test defeat

British and Irish Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray kicks the ball clear of danger during the Lions’ first Test match against the All Blacks. Photograph: David Gray/Reuters

Lions coach concerned after scrumhalf targeted during first Test defeat in Auckland

 Rieko Ioane   scores a try for New Zealand as a helpless  Anthony Watson of the Lions looks on  at Eden Park  in Auckland. Photograph:  Fiona Goodall/Getty

O’Brien’s try threw the visitors a lifeline but New Zealand’s class told long before the end

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen “Ever since Adam was a cowboy, if the tight five do the job everyone else can play.” Photo: Getty Images

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen happy for his side to get ‘down and dirty’ if required

 Lions’ captain Peter O’Mahony speaks to referee Jaco Peyper during the game. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Lions coach rues missed opportunities while players frustrated with referee

Aaron Smith celebrates Rieko Ioane scoring their second try. Photograph:  Marty Melville/Inpho

Tourists have their moments but Lions unable to live with All Blacks pace

The red army celebrate after the victory over the Chiefs at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Realisation dawns that Lions pose powerful threat to all-conquering All Blacks machine

Lions outhalf Owen Farrell gets in some kicking practice at Eden Park  Stadium. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Conor Murray braced for the biggest game of his career at All Blacks’ fortress – Eden Park

Conor Murray during training at the QBE Stadium in Auckland. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

The 28-year-old says experience of Chicago can be drawn on but it’s a different game

Brian O’Driscoll (left) presents the jersey to Peter O’Mahony ahead of the first test against New Zealand on Saturday. O’Mahony will captain the side. Photograph: via Twitter

Former touring captain was chosen for the honour ahead of the first Test in Auckland

New Zealand’s Beauden Barrett: has the capacity to cause the Lions serious problems at Eden Park.  Photograph: David Davies/PA

Kiwis have the better strike moves and an ability to strike from anywhere at any time

British and Irish Lions Peter O’Mahony and Tadhg Furlong preparing for the first Test against New Zealand. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘These are the sort of days that you play rugby for’ says prop of his Lions Test debut

British and Irish Lions captain Peter O’Mahony receives a pass during a training session in Auckland. Photo: Peter Parks/Getty Images

The Munster man says that winning on Saturday comes above all else on tour

British and Irish Lions head coach Warren Gatland during the press conference at the QBE Stadium, Auckland. Photo: David Davies/PA

Tourists’ coach says they are looking to take the game to the All Blacks with selection

Captain Peter O’Mahony speaks to the British & Irish Lions team before facing the Maori All Black. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Management pay tribute to Munster man’s role on and off the pitch for the Lions

Owen Farrell and Jonathan Sexton during Lions training. Photo: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leigh Halfpenny has been left out of the side with Owen Farrell in place of Johnny Sexton

The All Blacks during training at Trusts Stadium, Auckland. Photo: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho

Rieko Ioane is also given his first Test start after impressing coach Steve Hansen

 CJ Stander is tackled by Tim Nanai Williams of the Chiefs  at Waikato Stadium in Hamilton, New Zealand. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Impressive victory over Chiefs shows growing cohesion of the visiting squad

The Sexton-Farrell axis looks more of an option for the last 20 minutes or so. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Peter O’Mahony still likely to captain Lions against All Blacks on Saturday

Lions’ head coach Warren Gatland takes to the pitch before the game. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘We had quite a big sing song in the changing room. It was a good feeling,’ Gatland said

British and Irish Lions’ CJ Stander is tackled during the win in Hamilton. Photograph: David Davies/PA Wire.

Comfortable win unlikely to unduly alter the thinking of Gatland and his coaches for first test

Claims of unrest within the Lions squad will only unite them further. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Rumours of discontent, prompted by Steve Hansen among others, wide of the mark

Lions defence  Coach Andy Farrell with Johnny Sexton: “I think we’re going to have to take ourselves to a place that individually we’ve not been to before. But the boys realise that and are excited by that challenge.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Defence coach agrees Lions will have to raise their game to withstand New Zealand attack

CJ Stander in action against the Highlanders: “Midweek, in Test-week; you’re still putting on a jersey and you want to make your family proud and the boys around you proud.” Photograph: David Rodgers/Getty

Opportunity is still there to stake a claim for a starting place in upcoming Tests

British and Irish Lions defence coach Andy Farrell talks to the forwards during training. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

‘His department of defence has had a couple of impressive Saturday performances’

 Lions head coach Warren Gatland: “The frustrating thing for us is the amount of blocking that’s going on, the off-the-ball stuff.”  Photograph: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Lions selection for Chiefs game gives strong pointers toward squad for first test

Conor Murray delivering one of his 10 kicks for the Lions during the win against Maori All Blacks. Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/Photosport/Inpho

‘We converted pressure into points, which was really pleasing,’ says Munster scrumhalf

Jonathan Sexton is tackled during the match between the New Zealand Maori and the British and Irish Lions in Rotorua, New Zealand, on Saturday. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Lions starting XV against Maoris helps nail down bulk of match-day squad for first test

Peter O’Mahpny captained the Lions against the New Zealand Maori and could do so again in the first Test. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty

Warren Gatland names another new XV for Chiefs clash including five Irish players

Peter O’Mahony has confirmed the knee injury he picked up in the Lions’ win over the New Zealand Maori isn’t serious. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Captain Peter O’Mahony confirms knee injury which forced him off is not serious

Lions coach Warren Gatland has dismissed suggestions of division among his touring party. Photograph: David Davies/PA

Coach defends decision to call up players from touring Wales and Scotland squads

Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray with a box kick against the NZ Maori. Photograph: Inpho

On a sodden, foggy night in Rotorua, Warren Gatland’s team play the conditions perfectly

Ross Moriarty's Lions tour has been ended by injury. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images

Ross Moriarty forced to withdraw from the remainder of the tour due to a nerve injury

Chiefs’ James Lowe celebrates a  try: “We’re bound by blood so there’s something a bit more in that. This is a team where you’re brothers before you put on this shirt, before you put on this fern.” Photograph: Marty Melville/Photosport/Inpho

Leinster-bound prospect mans fullback berth for Maori All Blacks on Saturday

The selection of Damian McKenzie of the Chiefs as outhalf for the New Zealand Maori looks like a signature selection. Photograph: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

Unofficial fourth Test given Irish intrigue with Peter O’Mahony as captain in Rotorua

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty during the British & Irish Lions captain’s run, in the Rotorua International Stadium back pitches. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Game-time has allowed the Irish outhalf to rediscover his mojo according to Gatland

Steve Hansen: “We take this Test match seriously and respect Samoan rugby. They are a very good team and on their day can cause an upset.” Photograph: Andrew Cornaga/Inpho

Steve Hansen names a strong selection for run out against Pacific Islanders

Peter O’Mahony: “I don’t think I want to bring anything different. I just want to bring my game and try and play as well as I can.”  Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Gatland’s choice a fitting honour for the Munster stalwart after a difficult 12 months

British and Irish Lions warm up during training in Rotorua. Photo: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Warren Gatland will call up players from the two country’s squads touring in the vicinity

The Lions will be reacquainted with Rieko Ioane when they face the New Zealand Maori on Saturday. Photograph: Hannah Peters/Getty

Ash Dixon captains a strong side with just two uncapped Maori All Blacks on bench

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