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No motivation required says O'Callaghan

Donncha O'Callaghan is renowned as the joker in Ireland's pack, a man who keeps life in perspective. "If I stay tuned into rugby the whole time, I'd go crazy," he said this week.

An interview with the 58-times capped lock forward is invariably great value. He is the class clown who, according to legend, once laid a trail of corn to entice some ducks into a team meeting and allegedly took a lobster for a walk on a dog lead.

He swears that they are apocryphal stories, black propaganda put about by Paul O'Connell, his second-row partner in crime. The banter between the two is merciless. However, when the subject switches to England, their opponents at Twickenham on Saturday, he becomes deadly serious. "We can play England at any sport and everyone watching will want us to beat them," O'Callaghan said. "Rugby's no different. Granted we might know a few of them, but it's still England and a massive game. If there's any game you can mentally put yourself to the wheel for, then England is definitely it."

He is not stoking anti-English sentiment; indeed he pays due regard to the quality in Martin Johnson's side, the physicality of their forwards, the strike power of some of their threequarters and the lineout mastery of Steve Borthwick. "They're not one-dimensional at all," he said.

It is just that there is something about the English that gets him going, as it does Ireland, who have won five of the past six internationals against the 2003 world champions. O'Callaghan missed Ireland's first two games of the RBS Six Nations Championship with a medial ligament injury, but despite not having played since January 22, was put straight back into the side at the expense of Leo Cullen.

He may not be match-fit, but says that he has been "flailed" over the past three weeks by the conditioning coaches. His efforts in training have persuaded Declan Kidney, the Ireland head coach, that the Cork-born player is the man for the occasion.

O'Callaghan and O'Connell are one of Ireland's greatest lock pairings, who have been at the heart of their country's rise to prominence. They are supreme artists at the lineout, secure on their own ball and capable of creating havoc on opposition throws.

At the breakdown they are beasts.

Despite getting married on Christmas Eve, O'Callaghan has put a honeymoon on hold until the end of the season. Beating England would give him double cause for celebration.

Meanwhile, Kidney refuses to buy into talk of England's decline heading into Saturday's RBS Six Nations clash at Twickenham.

Kidney cites last season's hard-fought 14-13 victory at Croke Park and England's unbeaten start to the Six Nations as evidence of formidable opposition.

"Last year there was some negative press over England but they still finished second," said Ireland's head coach. "We only just got the better of them -- and that was at home. Now we're going to Twickenham and they're coming off the back of two wins."


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