All-powerful All Blacks and once woeful Wallabies in recovery – we’ve been warned
All things Aussie and Kiwi firmly en vogue and we Irish are prepared: arise and follow Schmidt
But perhaps Ireland’s greatest weapon is the coach. Players seem to fizz with purpose when he’s at the helm, while he calmly exudes a kind of unguarded, matter-of-fact honesty. Qualities which, when you’re confronted with them, feel strangely rare in Irish public life. Apart from the banks, FAI and the Dáil, obviously.
Across the water Sky Sports’ “exclusive” coverage has billed England’s meeting with the world champs as a “show-down” with the added edge of Kiwi “revenge” for last year’s record defeat in the same venue.
The fact that the entire All Blacks squad were jelly-legged after a severe dose of food poisoning has not featured prominently in Sky’s build-up. Maybe they were poisoned
“exclusively” by Sky.
This week, the Lion King himself, Ian McGeechan got involved, penning an article carrying the headline : The way you beat the All Blacks.
McGeechan reckons it’s down to four distinct and key areas: 1 Match their mentality. Mmm okay! 2 Decision making. Right! 3 Beware support runners. Okay, you’re losing me now! 4 Drive McCaw backwards. Amazing that no one thought of this before.
It’s scientific stuff, admittedly, and the kind of analysis which proves beyond doubt that you need to have played at the highest level to truly comprehend the head-scratching complexity of the oval-ball game.
Thank goodness for Geech. He didn’t list such fundamentals as “run forward with the ball” or “score more points than them”, or indeed “food-poison them”. But perhaps that’s an insight into why Geech’ has never won a Lions series against them.
With Wales suffering three injuries on the way to being pulverised by the massive Springboks, the reaction in Cardiff has been typically downcast – with the usual dollop of unrealistic pre-match expectation providing another false dawn.
It’s hard to have any sympathy for the Welsh. What have they ever done for us? St Patrick? The Edge? Leeks to go with our potato soup? Jonathan Davies instead of you know who in the 13 shirt this summer?
And then just when we needed them, they break ranks with their Celtic brethren, row- in with the English and French vultures and put the mockers on the Heineken Cup!
A bridge too far methinks.
Are Australia a better team now than when Ireland last played and beat them in the World Cup two years ago? Not in my view, but then again I am a mere observer and not blessed with the expert pundit gene.
But as Prof McGeechan might put it: “Any team that wants to beat Australia has to do it by having the ball.” He hasn’t said that yet, but one day he surely will.
Prediction? Ireland to win with nothing to spare.