IF THE MOOD in the Ireland camp was positive ahead of the triumphant Wales game, it is teeming with brio and confidence now.
The fitness report is encouraging. Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls had been given a ‘guarded prognosis’ on Tuesday but they trained fully this morning.
The only player to sit out the morning session, which is likely to be the last full-on training spin, was Sean O’Brien. The flanker’s calf felt tight, we were told by skills coach Mark Tainton, but he is not a major fitness concern.
Normally the appearance of Gordon D’Arcy and Donncha O’Callaghan for interviews would be a ‘good cop, stern cop’ routine but the Leinster centre, boosted by a good outing in training, joined in with some light-hearted remarks.
Asked what his response was to O’Driscoll’s take on playing alongside him 48 times in the centre, he remarked “Well, what did he say about me?”
Having taken ‘three whacks’ in the leg against the Welsh, D’Arcy remarked that he tried to stay on the field as long as he felt he could contribute.
Extra help for Rala
Still, it was O’Callaghan that delivered most of the witticisms. The Munster lock joked that training on a sodden Tuesday morning was like an episode of Deadliest Catch.
Given the emergence of Mike McCarthy and Donnacha Ryan in recent months, O’Callaghan’s role in the team is one of the experienced sub. Witness, though, his charge down of a late Argentina conversion attempt in November and evidence of intense commitment to the cause shines through.
Donncha O’Callaghan expects a mighty English challenge. (Credit: Pat McCarry)
He told TheScore.ie, “I’m mad keen to get into the team. I’d do anything to be involved… I know what it’s like to run out there on international days.
“You get a taste for it and you want more. My drive is as big as ever, I want out there.” O’Callaghan added:
Last week, with me not getting much time, you want to put it out there and throw yourself around in training. I’m running the risk of getting called Tarzan.”
O’Callaghan is expecting a physical battle against England on Sunday and admits the players that were humbled 30-9 at Twickenham last March have some scars from that game.
Whether he is selected to joust in the lineout with English locks Joe Launchbury and Geoff Parling, gets a two-minute subs role to close out a game, or pitch in with the kitman O’Callaghan is determined to add to the winning run.
He remarked, “The result is all that matters to me and I’ll do anything that helps that; even jump in with Rala [O'Reilly].”