From hero wor­ship­ping The Lib­ertines and the buzz of the Aviva to er­rant tweets and the al­most in­sane will to win, Hot Press has had some fas­ci­nat­ing chats with Ire­land’s rugby elite.

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“I’m a huge El­liott Smith fan and I re­ally love Nick Drake’s stuff. Ob­vi­ously, though, I won’t be see­ing them in con­cert any­time soon. Shane Hor­gan would go to a lot of gigs. He’s a huge Lib­ertines fan. Any­thing you want to know about Pete Do­herty, Shane’s your man.”

De­nis Hickie (2005) on why it’s not all Jay-Z & R. Kelly in the dress­ing-room

“You can’t be com­ing out with ridicu­lous stuff. The guys from Le­in­ster and Ire­land keep a good eye on our Twit­ters and if you were to write some­thing that was stupid or stir a lot of crap you’d get a phone call. But we’re not stupid; we know that a tweet can be turned into a front-page news story. We have a 24-hour pre- and post-game ban on tweet­ing, which stops you re­act­ing in the heat of the mo­ment to some­one abus­ing you over your per­for­mance. If you break it you’ll get a fine.”

Dave Kear­ney on be­ing so­cial me­dia savvy (2014)

“I love play­ing rugby but the ‘it’s the tak­ing part that counts’ thing? Pfft. I just like win­ning. I wanna win every­thing, man. It’s the way I was brought up. Yes, I can be quite laid­back off the field. And even on the field at times, but no-one can ques­tion my de­sire or com­pet­i­tive­ness. What we’ve done is great, but in terms of weigh­ing up achieve­ments like that? My only thoughts are, ‘Why not an­other one?’ or, ‘Why did it take us 60-odd years to win an­other Grand Slam’? An­other Heineken Cup, an­other Pro 12, a first World Cup...”

Jamie Heaslip on the will to win (2012)

“I have a strong be­lief in God. I try to go to mass as of­ten as I can. I don’t go ev­ery Sun­day: with my sched­ule, that’s not pos­si­ble, but I would put a bit of em­pha­sis on that in my life, which I sup­pose nowa­days is prob­a­bly very un­com­mon among my peers. I be­lieve that things hap­pen for a rea­son. I don’t get too car­ried away with it, I’m not old­fash­ioned re­li­gious but I pray and I be­lieve that some­thing might come out of that.”

Ro­nan O’Gara on hav­ing God on his side (2005)

“Noth­ing’s go­ing to re­place the buzz of run­ning out into a packed Aviva or Mil­len­nium Sta­dium or Stade de France. I love go­ing to train­ing be­cause I know I’ll have a good laugh with the lads and the en­dor­phin re­lease I get from do­ing phys­i­cal ex­er­cise is ad­dic­tive. I mightn’t love it go­ing into the ses­sion, but the feel­ing you get at the end of it is like a drug it­self. I’m afraid that when I stop play­ing the in­ner fat per­son in me will be re­vealed. Tommy Bowe can eat every­thing that’s put in front of him and not gain weight, but sadly not me!”

Brian O’Driscoll on the en­dor­phin rush he gets from rugby (2011)

“The ma­jor­ity of good play­ers can look at a game and say, ‘Yes, I played well, No, I played badly, or I did a cou­ple of bad things here and there.’ When some­body writes about it in the pa­per the fol­low­ing week, you’ve al­ready gone over it in your mind. Some­times, though, it gets a bit per­sonal, and that’s wrong and that’s when we get a bit cranky.”

Keith Wood on deal­ing with ETKVKEKUO|

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