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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 September, 2003, 20:05 GMT 21:05 UK
Hagler's rugby pep talk
Marvin Hagler was a surprise visitor to the Irish team's hotel
Marvin Hagler addressed Ireland's World Cup rugby squad

Ireland's World Cup players got a pep talk with a difference - from boxing great Marvin Hagler.

The former world middleweight champion called in at the Irish squad's Dublin hotel with an inspirational message for Eddie O'Sullivan's men.

BBC boxing commentator Jim Neilly, who also covers Irish rugby, help set up the visit.

Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan felt it was a worthwhile exercise in the week before the players leave for Australia.

"It was partly motivational but partly about him speaking to us about how he got to the top of his sport," said O'Sullivan.

"The players can identify with that because the same traits Marvin required are required in the game of rugby."

Irish centre Brian O'Driscoll said he saw the former boxer as an inspiration.

"When you really do not expect someone like that, it is not always the case of what he has to say, it is just the fact that he is there," said O'Driscoll.

"He could have been talking about rabbits for all I care. You are just looking at him in amazement and to have such a fantastic sportsman in your company is what it is all about."

Links to more Ireland stories


Boxing legend Marvin Hagler
"I just gave a nice little inspirational speech"

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