BOD rubs the locals up the right way as our boys land for World Cup
IT WAS sealed with a nose rub.
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll received the warm, traditional Maori 'hongi' greeting, but he vowed that the battle for the World Cup has just begun.
Irish fans turned out in their droves as the Irish rugby team touched down in Queenstown Airport, New Zealand.
The welcoming party pulled out all the stops, performing a Maori haka, traditionally a war dance but also a huge honour for any visitor to the nation.
And the rugby heroes didn't disappoint, reciprocating with Irish traditions -- BOD led the team in a rendition of a more subdued song, Ride On, by Christy Moore.
The players stopped to sign autographs and pose for pictures with the hundreds of supporters.
But the players were looking a little worse for wear after the long-distance flight, which included a stopover in Sydney.
And Ireland's number 13 was clearly suffering from jet lag when he mixed up the name of the New Zealand city.
"I have to say how absolutely blown away we are by both the people of Queensland and this load of paddies ... sorry, Queenstown, I should say," BOD said.
"And, most importantly, thanks to all these children who have come in with all these Irish flags and done an incredible job -- we're delighted to finally be here."
O'Driscoll said that there has been a long run into the World Cup and admitted that there were some "tough calls".
"There's some very good players left behind. But this is the squad we've picked for the World Cup and one we think can go all the way," he said.
Weather forecasts in Queenstown are predicting temperatures to drop to below freezing today and tomorrow and snow falls, which could pose a challenge for Ireland's first pool game against the United States in New Plymouth on September 11.
But anticipated snow showers shouldn't affect their game against Italy on October 2 in Dunedin, which is in a new roofed stadium.
The team excitedly posted photos of the stunning arrival into the land of The Lord of the Rings.
Winger Tommy Bowe said: "Great to finally arrive in NZ! Amazing views on the flight in. Snow showers expected tomorrow!"
And Ireland back rower Stephen Ferris tweeted soon after: "Awesome to finally be here in New Zealand -- and what a welcome at Queenstown Airport."
The team are staying at the Crowne Plaza Queenstown hotel until next Wednesday.