Ross O’Carroll-Kelly: ‘This could be the drink talking . . .'
‘This could be the drink talking but it looks to me like I’m very much gainfully employed again'
Murt Cowser is a man who knows what buttons to push with me.
He goes, “I was one of the lucky ones who saw you play rugby,” and then this distant look comes into his eyes – a bit like Sorcha when I try to explain the bonus try system to her.
“The way you led that Castlerock team. Those boys would have walked through walls for you.”
We’re sitting in Kielys. I don’t actually know this man, I should mention. He gave me his business cord at a porty a week ago and mentioned a possible coaching job. I have an idea what it might be, except I don’t want to count my basic chickens?
There ends up being more blah then.
He’s like, “When I think back to that time – 1998, 1999, wasn’t it? – I just can’t believe that you never made it. As a professional rugby player, I mean.”
“It’s a genuine mystery,” I go. “Although I think the management of this place had a lot to do with it. All those times they borred me – if only I’d stayed borred.”
“People used to say, he’s going to be one of the all-time greats. There was you and there was Brian O’Driscoll and everyone said …”
“Stop – please, don’t say it.”
I drove by the National Convention Centre last week and there was a 40ft-high photograph of the dude projected on the side of the building. His testimonial is only just over – it’s only natural that I’m feeling a bit raw.
I knock back a mouthful of my pint. Murt is drinking coffee. It’s lunchtime, I suppose, and this is technically a job interview?
I try to steer the conversation back to the reason we’re here by picking up my famous tactics book, which I’ve brought with me, ever the pro.
“This is the kind of shit I’ve been doing the last couple of years,” I go. “I watch a hell of a lot of rugby on TV and I write down what I would have done differently in certain situations – as a player and as a coach? I’m like that Good Will Hunting. We’re talking, like, diagrams and everything.”
I open the book and discover – to my horror – that Honor has written, in thick black morker, the words, “Sad Bastard,” across every page. I quickly close it again.
I’m there, “Let’s not get bogged down in detail. Let’s talk turkey – what’s this job you’re offering me?”
He goes, “It’s coaching at schools level.”
“Schools level? You mean coaching just a focking school.”
I can hear the disappointment in my own voice.
He goes, “Yes.”
“What a waste of my time,” I go. “I thought deep down that Joe Schmidt had sent you.”
“Yeah, no, I thought he maybe wanted me to help out coaching the backs. I’ve made a total focking orse of myself as well. I gave Dave Kearney a shoulder nudge coming out of Bear the other day and told him he was going to be seeing a lot more of me. Jesus, I even texted Dorce and told him I believed in running a tight ship.”