Jamie Heaslip: Let’s go out with all guns blazing
Let's finish this campaign as we started. That's the impassioned plea from Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip as his team today try to secure third place in the Six Nations in Rome.
Heaslip has urged Ireland to finish the tournament in the same way it began in Cardiff – with a flurry of tries – and win against an Italian team desperate to end their run of Six Nations losses against the visitors.
"I would love it if we came out this weekend with all guns blazing," said Heaslip (right).
Meanwhile, the tributes continue to flow for Brian O'Driscoll as the question mark still hovers over his future.
Italy captain Sergio Parisse has praised the former Ireland captain as one of the greatest centres in history.
O'Driscoll will be playing his 60th and potentially final match of the championship, with his future beyond his likely presence on the Lions' summer tour to Australia yet to be decided.
The 34-year-old passed concussion protocols to take his place in Ireland's team.
"When you talk about Ireland and rugby, you can't not talk about Brian O'Driscoll," Parisse said. "He's one of the best centres in the history of the game. This will be his final match in Rome and he will want to finish with a win.
"I wish him luck in the rest of his life, but he has done many things for Ireland and rugby. When I think about a centre, I think about Brian O'Driscoll over all the rest."
And Ireland's assistant coach Anthony Foley also advised players and fans to "cherish" O'Driscoll's genius.
Whether or not this is O'Driscoll's final game in an Ireland shirt is almost immaterial – when he does finally retire he will be hugely missed, something Foley highlighted at yesterday's final training run before today's game.
Belfast Telegraph Digital