Our rugby hunks take on Gorillaz ahead of big match

THE Irish rugby squad has had an unusual warm-up session for today's clash with Samoa -- by attending a Gorillaz concert.

Several members of the team took a break from their intense schedule to enjoy some downtime with a trip to The O2 earlier this week.

The Herald can reveal how Jamie Heaslip, Devin Toner, Tommy Bowe and others let their hair down at the packed concert venue in a bid to relieve the tension ahead of today's test match at the Aviva stadium.

Captain Brian O'Driscoll had also been due to join his teammates for a boys' night out on Thursday but cancelled at the last minute, choosing to conserve his energy for today's match instead. A source said: "The lads were at him to go but it wasn't really his sort of gig."


Concert-goers revealed how the group stuck to water and soft drinks throughout the evening, given that a strict ban on alcohol is imposed ahead of all games. "They were in great form and really seemed to enjoy the gig," said an insider.

"Jamie is actually a big fan of Gorillaz, the rest of the lads weren't as familiar with them but made the best of it anyway by singing along and dancing to some of their best known songs.

"They had been at training earlier that day in the torrential wind and rain so they were all badly in need of some downtime to relax."

The group were invited to attend the gig as a thank you for giving up their time to step out to Dundrum Shopping Centre on Tuesday afternoon for a special signing session at the O2 store, where hundreds of fans queued to meet Tommy Bowe, Donncha O'Callaghan and Paddy Wallace.

The players had the opportunity to rub shoulders with the band members including Blur singer Damon Albarn after the gig but chose not to continue the celebrations at the after-party at the Grafton Lounge.