'I've never been happier to be wrong' admits George Hook after Ireland's win over the Springboks

The RTÉ pundit had no problem admitting he underestimated this Irish team.

Hook was as pleased as anyone after Ireland's win.
Hook was as pleased as anyone after Ireland's win.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

GEORGE HOOK WAS forced to backtrack and eat his own words after Ireland produced a superlative performance to beat South Africa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

During the pre-match build-up on RTÉ, Hook raised concerns over Ireland’s capability to compete with a Springboks side buoyed by a win over the All Blacks in their last outing.

The out-spoken pundit also questioned coach Joe Schmidt as the panel, including Brent Pope, assessed the size of the task facing the injury-ravaged hosts.

However, a domineering 29-15 victory for Ireland forced Hook to admit he completely underestimated Schmidt and the players.

“It’s an extraordinary privilege to be on television and to be able to give your opinions on a game you love and it’s also extraordinary when you get it so wrong,” he said.

“I have got it absolutely wrong. I have totally underestimated the extraordinary ability demonstrated by Joe Schmidt and the players under his control.

“I didn’t think it was possible nor did I think he was capable of doing it but I’m very happy to be wrong because you’re always happy to be wrong on these occasions,” Hook continued.

After a tight first-half, tries after the interval by Rhys Ruddock and Tommy Bowe manufactured a 16 point lead and unlike twelve months ago when the All Blacks broke Irish hearts, Schmidt’s men were able to complete the job.

With this game marking the start of the groundwork for next year’s World Cup, Hook claimed that the victory is a clear indication that this side can rub shoulders with the big boys in England.

“What this has proven now is that for the first time in my lifetime I’m going into a World Cup with an Irish squad that stands a real chance of doing better than any of its predecessors by reaching the semi-final.

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“This victory is one of the most extraordinary in the history of Irish rugby because our performances up until this point have always been predicated by courage, character and commitment but this victory was fashioned by extraordinary coaching, on unbelievable discipline and an incredible game plan.”

“I have never been happier to be wrong,” Hook concluded.

Ireland’s November Test series continues next week when Georgia visit the Aviva Stadium before Australia provide another significant appraisal of Joe Schmidt’s sides’ credentials.

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Ryan Bailey

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