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Dublin: 10°C Sunday 18 April 2021

Hugh Cahill's New Zealand diary: Day 4

Hugh Cahill brings us all the latest from New Zealand ahead of Ireland’s opening RWC fixture against the US Eagles.

Brian O'Driscoll and Geordan Murphy
Brian O'Driscoll and Geordan Murphy
Image: INPHO/Dan Sheridan

WE WERE UP at 5am this morning in order to make the journey from Auckland to New Plymouth.

It’s a five-hour drive at the best of times so we were keen to leave early and make it to Ireland’s training session at 10.45am. I had about four hours sleep after the New Zealand match but it seems that one advantage of jet lag is that the early mornings don’t seem to take their toll as much.

The first hour passed quickly enough but neither Paul, Donal or I had eaten anything since lunchtime the previous day, so we stopped en route to recharge the batteries in a little town called Pine Tree. I quickly remembered reading about the place in a newspaper article on the plane journey over – the town committee decided two months ago to temporarily change its name from Pinetree to Meadsville for the duration of the World Cup.

For anyone who isn’t familiar with New Zealand rugby history, Colin Meads was without question the toughest, roughest lock to ever set foot on a rugby pitch – he makes Bakkies Botha look like Dolly Parton.

Meads’ reputation probably didn’t do him justice and Willie John McBride’s Lions squad in 1971 would have had plenty of tales about dealing with the snarling All Black. We ordered three heart attacks on a plate from a woman who couldn’t have been a day younger than 94, guzzled down the grease and set off again on our journey to New Plymouth.

The last two hours of the drive threw up some magnificent scenery with mountains, forest and lakes all around us – New Zealand really does have some beautiful countryside – and Donal’s iPod got a hectic work out with The Eagles, Dire Straits and Tom Petty as company all the way in. Our combined singing voices could have killed a small cat, however.

Ireland ran through their usual warm-up ahead of match day tomorrow and both Conor Murray and Geordan Murphy looked very calm and composed on the training ground. I spent the rest of the day going over some notes and watching the rugby.

Romania were brilliant against the Scots, Japan came so close to toppling France and Argentina almost got the better of England in a really tough physical battle. It’s a slight worry that the underdogs have all performed so well – I hope the USA don’t follow suit tomorrow night.

Not a whole else to report today. I’m pretty tired after the early start and need to save the energy for tomorrow.  The weather forecast isn’t good but nobody here seems to care. All that matters is an Ireland win.

Until tomorrow…

READ – Hard Yards: what you missed this morning

VISIT – Our Rugby World Cup mini-site >>>>

About the author:

Hugh Cahill

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