Andy Farrell is set to take over from Joe Schmidt following the Rugby World Cup. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The heir to Joe Schmidt’s throne has his immediate attention turned towards Italy

Jonathan Sexton talks to forwards coach Simon Easterby during Friday’s training session at the Aviva. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Andy Farrell confirms outhalf had no lingering issues arising from bang to the head

Iain Henderson: has recovered from a finger injury sustained during the victory over Leicester Tigers at Welford Road. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

Visitors will need most things to fall their way to prevail over Ospreys

Andrew Conway: has recovered from injury and starts on the right wing for Munster against Southern Kings. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho

Van Graan’s squad poised to maintain their lead in Conference A of Pro 14

Quinn Roux lead the way in clearouts for Ireland against Scotland. Photograph:  David Rogers/Getty Images

Rugby statistics: Forwards led the way against Scotland in the breakdown and tackle

Ireland’s Garry Ringrose caught by the England defence during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Aviva Stadium, Dublin on February 2nd. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/PA Wire

After sitting out Ireland’s Murrayfield revival, Ringrose is expected to play in Rome

 Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster: “The way the game played out I think England deserved it in the end.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster coach believes Ireland will finish strongly in games against France and Wales

Sean O’Brien has agreed a three-year deal with London Irish. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Leinster and Ireland flanker will join English club after World Cup in November

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has no new injuries to worry about. Photograph: James Burrows/Inpho

Joe Schmidt has no new injury concerns following the nine point win over Scotland

Ireland’s  Cormac Foley scoring a try against England in Cork in the  Under-20 Six Nations championship. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Defence coach Campbell sees possible weakness in Scotland’s set-piece

 Scotland  coach Gregor Townsend: he  is receptive to ideas from his coaching team, and will always test his own theories on the game in a practical way.  Photograph:  Ian MacNicol/Getty Images

Townsend encourages players who are free spirits to express themselves on the pitch

Cormac Foley scoring a try against England in the Under-20 Six Nations Championship match at Donnybrook. The St Mary’s scrumhalf will start against Scotland in place of the injured Craig Casey. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

St Mary’s player scored a try off the bench against England

 Joe Schmidt: The last time he saw Ireland recover from an interval deficit to record a victory was in the  23-17 victory over the Pumas  in Tucumán, Argentina in  2014. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

Since 2014 on all 10 times Ireland trailed at the interval, they went on to lose the game

Ireland’s Devin Toner is replaced by Quinn Roux at last Saturday’s  Six Nations Championship round 1 match against England at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

One by one, the squad’s tall pines have been felled by injury, so what are Schmidt’s options?

Ireland’s CJ Stander sustained a facial injury against England. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Andrew Conway returns to Munster as Ringrose and Earls await further assessment

John Cooney scores a late consolation try for Ireland in the Six Nations game against England at the Aviva stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster scrumhalf makes try-scoring Six Nations debut and makes case for more exposure

 Scotland’s Finn Russell in action during their victory over Italy at Murrayfield. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Gregor Townsend’s side’s bonus-point victory over Italy spoiled by conceding three tries

England’s Billy Vunipola attempts to block a kick from Ireland’s Conor Murray. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Eddie Jones’ England come out on top in aerial duels as defending champions beaten

Owen Farrell celebrates a second-half penalty in Dublin. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

John O’Sullivan ranks the visitors after their impressive performance at the Aviva

Ultan Dillane during Ireland training at Carton House in the build-up to the England Six nations opener. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

The competition for Joe Schmidt’s squad for this year’s tournament in Japan is intense

Ireland’s Conor Phillips and Cadan Murley of England challenge for the ball during the Under-20 Six Nations match at Musgrave Park. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Noel McNamara’s side get Under-20 Six nations campaign off to perfect start

England attack coach Scott Wisemantel with lock George Kruis at  a press conference in Dublin on Friday. Photograph:   Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

England attack coach well aware of threat of Ireland’s kicking game

Jacob Stockdale scores his memorable try at Twickenham last season. Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Joe Schmidt’s side boast a better try-scoring record the Eddie Jones’ current England crop

England’s Elliot Daly scores his side’s first try against Ireland in the Six Nations tournament at Twickenham Stadium on March 17, 2018. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Young back’s ability to play at centre, wing and fullback comes with a caveat

Leinster flanker Scott Penny will make his Ireland Under-20 debut against England in Cork on Friday night. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland coach Noel McNamara names Leinster flanker in backrow

Ireland winger Keith Earls at a press conference at Carton House, Co  Kildare, ahead of taking on England in the Six Nations on Saturday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Winger is set to win his 73rd cap against England, having scored 27 tries

Maxime Mbanda: ideally suited to the role of flanker and makes an impact in all aspects of that role. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Opportunity knocks for Mbanda, Dupont, Cokanasiga, Cooney, Young and McInally

Leinster’s Rob Kearney has joined up with the Ireland squad. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland back in Carton House as they prepare to take on England

 Ulster’s Michael Lowry: “He is an exciting player, he is a confident player, he is a really good footballer with great skills.” Photograph:   David Rogers/Getty Images

Young Ulster player has come through a nine-month hiatus due to a groin injury

Joey Carbery kicks a penalty in the Heineken Champions Cup Round 6 match between Munster and Exeter Chiefs in  Thomond Park, Limerick, last Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Rugby Statistics: Munster outhalf has landed 20 kicks on the bounce in last four games

Leinster’s David Hawkshaw in action in Thomond Park earlier this month. Photograph: ©INPHO/Laszlo Geczo

Ireland under-20 captain says the aggression from hurling is a big benefit in rugby

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton talks to referee Frank Murphy during their fractious match against Munster at Thomond Park last month. Photograph: Inpho

Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi says lack of game time not an issue for outhalf

Conor O’Brien scores a try for Leinster against Ulster in the Pro14 clash at the RDS earlier this month. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Westmeath-born centre eager to follow in the footsteps of Robbie Henshaw

Leinster’s Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath will start their Pro14 clash with Scarlets on Friday. Photo: Oisin Keniry/Inpho

Pair will start against Scarlets in the Pro14 as they both continue to recover from injury

Ross Byrne: will have extra incentive to produce another big display for Leinster having been omitted from the Ireland squad this week. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Eager O’Brien back on the bench as champions aim to inflict more woe on Wasps

Josh van der Flier: “I don’t have too good memories of that game. It was tough. They were very, very good and I remember they scored a lot of very good backs’ tries.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Cullen’s side return to Coventry looking to expunge memory of record 51-10 defeat

Eddie Jones: “To beat Ireland, we need to compete brutally in all the contest areas of the game.” Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Head coach includes four uncapped players in England squad for Aviva test

Munster’s Denis Leamy gets tackled by Leo Cullen and Louis Deacon of Leicester in Munster’s Heineken Cup pool defeat in 2007. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster have a less impressive record in final Champions Cup pool game

Connacht’s Jack Carty has been named in the Ireland Six Nations squad. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Connacht outhalf has got the nod while Dan Leavy and Kieran Marmion also miss out

 Leinster outhalf Johnny Sexton  sustained a knee injury in the province’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Inpho

Ross Byrne to deputise at number 10 jersey again in Coventry

Leinster’s Jamison Gibson-Park and Andrew Porter celebrate a penalty being awarded to their side during last Saturday’s Heineken Champions Cup match against Toulouse at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho

New Zealander set to make first start for Leinster in Champions Cup against Wasps

 Leinster’s Luke McGrath receives treatment in the win over Toulouse. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Hugh O’Sullivan likely to be included among the replacements for Leinster this weekend

Leinster’s Josh van der Flier tackles Toulouse’s   Yoann Huget during the Champions Cup clash at the RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Flanker’s intelligence on both sides of the ball a telling factor in Leinster’s victory

Garry Ringrose was named man-of-the-match in Leinster’s comprehensive win over Toulouse. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland centre pays tribute to his pack after crucial Champions Cup win over Toulouse

  Leinster’s Luke McGrath  is helped from pitch. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Leinster scrumhalf sustained knee injury during win over Toulouse at the RDS

Ross Byrne: “He leads the team well; he’s a very clear understanding of what’s expected and how we want to play the game. So, no issues with Ross, he’s been fantastic,” says Leo Cullen. Photograph: Laszlo

Champions’ missing big guns tilts the balance towards confident Toulouse

Montpellier’s South African lock Jacques Du Plessis  in action against Lyon last week. Photograph: Getty Images

Leicester Tigers look to pounce on injury-hit Scarlets; Toulon brace for Edinburgh

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen is without a number of his key players for Saturday’s match against Toulouse. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Devin Toner’s ankle problem has also not healed in time to make the 23 man squad

 Ben Morgan: Munster will have to restrain the impact of  Gloucester’s primary ball carrier  at Kingsholm. Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Likes of Gloucester’s Morgan and Toulouse’s Guitoune pose real threat to provinces’ hopes

Jack Conan  makes a break to set up his side’s first try during the Champions Cup defeat to   Toulouse  at Stade Ernest-Wallon  in Toulouse, France. Photograph:  Dan Mullan/Getty Images

Number eight says European champions excited in advance of key RDS clash

 Leinster’s Johnny Sexton:  he  sustained  a lower-leg injury  in the game against Munster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Henshaw could make surprise return to the Leinster match-day squad

Leinster coach Stuart Lancaster at squad training in Energia Park, Donnybrook on Monday. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Leinster must be ‘controlled and composed’ against Toulouse on Saturday

Munster’s Chris Farrell was injured in the Pro14 game against Connacht at the weekend. Photo: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Centre has been unlucky with injuries and it’s a blow for Munster ahead of Gloucester

Leinster’s Robbie Henshaw has been out injured since November. Photo: James Crombie/Inpho

Johnny Sexton won’t train on Monday and is in a race to be fit for Saturday’s match

Conor O’Brien runs in a try for Leinster in their Guinness PRO14 match against Ulster at the RDS, Dublin on Saturday. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Coach Leo Cullen is keen to tighten up his squad for next week’s Champions Cup game

Conor O’Brien celebrates his try against Ulster. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Centre could be brought into Champions Cup squad after his fine display against Ulster

Conor O’Brien scores a fine individual try in the first half of Leinster win over Ulster. Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Conor O’Brien shines for Cullen’s much changed side as they ease to RDS victory

Leinster’s Max Deegan and Andrew Porter tackle former Ireland U-20 teammate Ulster’s Johnny McPhillips at the RDS last January.  Photograph: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

Leinster v Ulster clash will feature several of the young stars from World Junior final

Leinster’s Ross Byrne in action against Connacht in the Guinness PRO14 at the RDS, Dublin on December 22nd. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

The 23-year-old will need all his quiet calm if he dons the Number 10 shirt on Saturday

Ulster’s Marcell Coetzee is presented with the man of the match award by Barney McCann after the Pro14 win over Munster. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Former Springbok Coetzee ticks all the right boxes with massive contribution to Ulster

Referee Frank Murphy speaks to Johnny Sexton and Cian Healy during Leinster’s defeat to Munster. Photograph: Gary Carr/Inpho

‘That personality made him the best player in the world, so you can take it or leave it’

Sean Cronin has said Leinster need to improve their discipline following their defeat to Munster. Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Ireland hooker aware Leinster need to reduce penalty count for the visit of Ulster

Leinster backs coach Felipe Contepomi says his team must learn from their indiscipline. Photo: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Backs coach says Johnny Sexton is still learning how to be a captain and a leader

Leinster’s Rob Kearney will return to action during the Pro14 clash with Ulster on Saturday. Photo: Tommy Dickson/Inpho

International pair will be in the mix for a place in Saturday’s interpro against Ulster

Dan Leavy in action against Bath.  He is one of three players retained from last weekend’s Leinster team for the game against Connacht.   Photograph: David Davies/PA

Former Leinster contingent in visitors’ line-up adds extra spice to this festive interpro

Connacht’s Paul Boyle in action against  Southern Kings. “He carries hard, he tackles hard, he knows his role and he knows where he’s meant to be,” says coach Andy Friend.   Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Gorey-born forward and ex-U-20 Ireland star embracing his opportunity with Connacht

Noel McNamara: “Taking on that challenge  was exciting. For me it was about trying to create a culture around our defence. I certainly got a buy-in [from the players].  Photograph: Anthony Au-Yeung/Inpho

Ireland U-20 coach returns from a placement with North Harbour with a notebook full of ideas

Munster’s Sam Arnold: how he  fares against Will Addison promises to be an interesting midfield battle. Photograph:  Niall Carson/PA Wire

Darren Sweetnam, Jean Kleyn, Conor Oliver and Tommy O’Donnell are back for Munster

Jacob Stockdale leads the way  for Ireland with 10 tries, including this one against England in this year’s Six Nations.  Photograph:  Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)

In 24 matches, 37 different individual players crossed the line for Joe Schmidt's side

Conor Murray: “They are a passionate team; big set piece, big lineout maul, scrum game and they are going to be probably a little bit hurt especially scrum-wise from last weekend.” Photograph: Laszlo Geczo/Inpho

Murray expecting to face a far more ‘passionate’ Castres side this time around

Gary Ringrose: “You can have the best laid plans, and ultimately if you don’t win your ball, get quick ball, it’s tough to play.” Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland centre says Leinster must adapt better to the challenge posed by English side

Bath v Leinster breakdown:  Joe Cokanasiga trapped at the bottom of a ruck. Action Images via Reuters/Adam Holt

John O'Sullivan: Protecting the ball at the breakdown will be high on Leinster's agenda

Leinster’s Devin Toner and Tadhg Furlong at the Recreation Ground against  Bath in the Champions Cup. Photograph:  Ryan Byrne/Inpho

‘To make it worse we probably didn’t win the collisions, and that’s rugby really, isn’t it?

Leinster’s Johnny Sexton is subsitituted injured during their Champions Cup win over Bath. Photo: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Ireland outhalf limped off injured during Leinster’s Champions Cup win on Saturday

Stuart Lancaster has said he is happy at Leinster amid rumours that he may leave. Photo: David Rogers/Getty Images

Leinster coach linked with jobs in England as well as with Andy Farrell at Ireland

Stuart Lancaster has insisted he is ‘very happy’ with life at Leinster. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho

Lancaster’s contract up at end of the season with discussions ongoing over a renewal

Robbie Henshaw could miss the start of Ireland’s 2019 Six Nations campaign. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Johnny Sexton expected to be fit for Leinster’s Aviva Stadium clash with Bath

Referee Angus Gardner awards a penalty to Ireland during the final Six Nations match of 2018 against England. Photo: Steve Bardens - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images

Referee from Grand Slam win in Twickenham will do Ireland’s final game again

Hugo Keenan of Leinster during a recent Pro14 clash against Dragons at Rodney Parade. Photo: Alex Davidson/Inpho

Different form of game polarises opinion but provinces are beginning to reap rewards

Paul Dunne of Ireland plays a shot during day one of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai. Photo: Karim Sahib/Getty Images

Irish pair look to salvage season and complete third tourmament success for Ireland

Danny Willett celebrates his victory in Dubai with caddie Sam Haywood. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty

First title for Willett since 2016 Masters as Francesco Molinari wins race to Dubai

 Danny Willett during the third round of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Photograph:  Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy to break his traditional curfew to stay up and watch Ireland v All Blacks

 Matt Wallace d plays his second shot on the 18th hole on  day two of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, UAE. Photograph:  Andrew Redington/Getty Images

McIlroy three shots off the lead after carding 67 in second round

Cormac Sharvin: finished one stroke outside the mark that rewarded the top 25 players and ties with a full European Tour card. Photograph:  Paul Kane/Getty Images

Ardglass golfer misses out by a gut-wrenching one shot at Qualifying School

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland tees off on the 13th hole during day two of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Four-time Major winner was paired alongside Patrick Reed for the second round

 Rory McIlroy  plays his second shot from a bunker on the fourth hole during the first round day one of the DP World Tour Championship at Jumeirah Golf Estates  in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photograph: Ross Kinnaird/Getty Images

World No 7 has no issue with Paul McGinley’s comments on his playing schedule

 Francesco Molinari and Tommy Fleetwood during day one of the DP World Tour Championship in Dubai. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy the best of the Irish after first round of DP World Tour Championship

Tommy Fleetwood of England walks over a waterfall during the DP World Tour Championship ProAm held at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Rory McIlroy has a new driver in the bag as he hopes to finish the season with a first win

Shane Lowry is hoping for a high finish to boost his Race to Dubai rankings at the DP World Tour Championship this week. Photo: EPA

Offaly golfer says he will be watching and is hoping for a late tee-time on Sunday

Lee Westwood of England is sprayed with champagne by partner and caddie, Helen Storey after winning the Nedbank Golf Challenge at Gary Player CC in Sun City, South Africa. Photo: Warren Little/Getty Images

English golfer won for the first time in four years last week with his partner on the bag

Rory McIlroy of Northern Ireland plays an approach shot to the fifth green during the DP World Tour Championship ProAm at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Photo: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Former tournament host says he is looking to play the week before each Major next year

Devin Toner made a big impact coming off the replacements bench against the Pumas. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Our writers pick the Irish sides they want to see take on the mighty All Blacks

Rory McIlroy ahead of the DP World Tour Championship golf tournament in Dubai. Photograph: AP

‘If I don’t fulfil my membership, it’s not a Ryder Cup year so it’s not end of the world’

Ireland’s Will Addison is tackled by  Argentina’s Matias Orlando  during the international clash at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Ulster player coped remarkably well given his first unexpected home international start

Bundee Aki bursts to score for Ireland against Argentina. Photograph: Charles McQuillan/Getty

John O’Sullivan looks at the Ireland side who battled to victory over Argentina in Dublin

Ireland’s match against Argentina in 1990 was the first time that the IRFU handed out caps for games against the Pumas. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

The first time that the IRFU handed out caps for games against Argentina was in 1990

Argentina captain Pablo Matera. Photograph: Bryan Keane/Inpho

Meet Mario Ledesma’s XV looking to disrupt Ireland’s November plans at the Aviva

Johnny Sexton during Friday’s captain’s run ahead of Ireland’s clash with Argentina. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho

A look at Joe Schmidt’s starting XV set to take on Los Pumas at the Aviva Stadium

Argentina’s Emiliano Boffelli scores a try in the Rugby Championship, despite a tackle from Ardie Savea of New Zealand. Photograph: Inpho

John O'Sullivan: during the Rugby Championship Pumas averaged three tries a match

Andrew Conway: “If you are playing wing and fullback and chopping and changing each week then it’s on me or whoever is doing that job to do it seamlessly.” Photograph: Dan Sheridan

Versatile Munster back has worked hard on his game to progress at international level

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