In their own words: Ireland's Grand Slam heroes

‘When I was about to go on I got a bit nervous but it was a special feeling’ – Jordan Larmour

Ireland captain Rory Best celebrates after leading his side to the Grand Slam with victory over England at Twickenham. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Ireland captain Rory Best celebrates after leading his side to the Grand Slam with victory over England at Twickenham. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

“To build that amount of phases, to keep the ball, the conditions were awful, and then the stones on Johnny at the end, was incredible. I thought it was a little short. It went in slow motion and it just crept over.”

Ireland fullback Rob Kearney pays tribute to Jonathan Sexton and that drop goal in Paris.

“Everyone would be getting up depressed tomorrow morning. Instead, everything is beautiful and all is possible again.”

Johnny Sexton’s former rival for the number 10 Ireland jersey and now TV3 pundit Ronan O’Gara sums up the mood after the drop goal in Paris.

“(I) wasn’t that nervous. When I was about to go on I got a bit nervous but it was a special feeling. It’s been a dream of mine to play for Ireland so hopefully I get a few more opportunities to do it.”

The 20-year-old Jordan Larmour offered his thoughts on his debut against Italy.

“I don’t really care.”

Wales coach Warren Gatland when asked who he thought would win between Ireland and England at Twickenham.

“I was in second year in school. I think I watched it with my family. It would be amazing to be part of something like that but there is no point getting too distracted by that.”

Garry Ringrose, who excelled on his return to the team for the Scotland game was asked where he was when Ireland last won the Grand Slam in 2009.

“It’s a little bit surreal. We’ve never won it (at home), certainly not in my five years with the team. The other two times we’ve won it away from home so it’s nice to have won it at home.”

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt after France’s victory over England confirmed that his team had won the Six Nations Championship with a round of matches to go.

“I remember playing Scotland in Croke Park for a Triple Crown in 2010 and almost taking it for granted because I thought I’d have plenty more opportunities like this. I still haven’t won a Triple Crown.”

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton has broken that duck now and then some, tagging on a Grand Slam too.

“He’s the knack of scoring alright. He’s been exceptional. For me having played with him in his first year of Under-20s, it comes as no surprise how good he’s been. It makes my job that bit easier; just get him the ball and he does the rest.”

Garry Ringrose on Jacob Stockdale, the new holder of the try scoring record (seven) for a single Six Nations tournament.

“It’s a great feeling. Every game I was just going out and trying to do the best I could and thankfully the tries came from that. It was nice to help the team.”

Jacob Stockdale on breaking that Six Nations try-scoring record.

“At the start of the season if you told me I’d be in a Grand Slam-winning team, I wouldn’t have believed you. It’s been a very special year for me and it just shows that hard work can pay off.”

Jordan Larmour talks about a remarkable first season in international rugby.

“For me personally, it’s a little bit more special, not only starting every game but captaining the side. Every kid grows up dreaming of playing for Ireland and when you do that the next thing you want to do is win something for Ireland. To win something as captain in that special green jersey, it’s something that dreams are made of.”

Ireland captain Rory Best on comparing the 2009 and 2018 Grand Slams.

“Johnny (Sexton), Jacob Stockdale and Garry Ringrose were just talking to me. It was all calm. We knew the game plan. We knew how we were going to defend, how we were going to attack. It was just about coming on and fitting in really.”

Jordan Larmour on filling in at outside centre at Twickenham.

“I have started drinking beer and champagne. I might reset goals on Wednesday or Thursday.”

Dan Leavy gives an honest answer as to how he’ll celebrate the Grand Slam, one of seven young players who have never lost a match while playing for Ireland.

“He keeps you on your toes. He, eh, how do I put this nicely? At times during the week you are driven demented with him but you know he is doing it for a reason; putting pressure on you in training, at meetings to make sure on Saturday every box is ticked, to make sure all the prep is done. He is an incredible coach; his record with Irish teams speaks for itself.”

Ireland outhalf Jonathan Sexton on Joe Schmidt.

“He’s getting faster and faster on that zimmer-frame. It’s like everything with Rory, it’s hard to get him to make a decision.”

Joe Schmidt teases his captain Rory Best good-naturedly about signing a new contract, a situation that will be resolved shortly as the Ulster man leads Ireland to the 2019 World Cup.

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