Wallabies will hardly indulge in world famous 5am stroll home to Burlington
High-flying Ireland should watch out as there’s no better men to bring you crashing down
Israel Folau training with Wallabies in Donnybrook, Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
These are exciting times. Back-to-back wins against two of the Southern Hemisphere big three happen about as regularly as Roy Keane avoids a press conference, and being Irish of course, you feel compelled to temper your optimism in order to prepare yourself for inevitable disappointment.
The last time Ireland beat South Africa and Australia in the same season was 2006, and we all know what happened in 2007. Even if the mindset is changing under the present coach, no better men than the Aussies to leave us all dazed on the seat of our pants come Saturday evening.
The fact is though, Ireland are reigning Six Nations champions, conquerors of the second best team in the world and currently the third best team in the world. And while we don’t want to make a song and dance about it, as Grenoble coach Bernard Jackman put it this week, “Der’s nutting wrong wit lying turd”. A remark which highlighted, among other things, that not everyone who plays for Leinster has their culchiness extr acted out of them and left permanently scarred by the classic Dublin 4 vernacular.
Admittedly against Georgia, Ireland had to wait until JP Doyle, the RFU ref with the Dublin 6 accent, threw a few of our confused opponents into the naughty bin before Ireland got going.
Even before the game began, the signs were ominous for Ireland, as Simon Zebo struggled manfully to chew gum while simultaneously attempting Amhrán na bhFiann. Maybe he felt the gum-chewing would help his Gaeilge pronunciation, but as the anthem progressed his expression grew more and more anxious, determined as he was to chew, look cool, avoid swallowing and sing all at the same time. Who said men can’t multi-task? Certainly no one can fault his work-rate after that, but he might want to stick it behind his ear this Saturday.
Richardt Strauss had no such problems, and how fantastic it is to see him belting out Amhrán like he’d been brought up in the Gaeltacht. Sure it would be worth the ticket price alone to hear ár teanga in a Pretorian accent.
It seems Australia’s main battles this year have been with themselves. After a long and gruelling season in which the off-pitch drama involved alleged affairs, threatening texts and air rage, the whole scenario was like a strange combination of Fair City meets Home and Away.
In the build-up to the equivalent fixture last year, there were reports of Aussie revelry taking place in a late-night city centre hostelry. It didn’t seem to put them off come match day, mind you, as they waltzed through flailing green jerseys as if Ireland were preparing for a different match.
Yes, the other one we lost last year. This time, under Michael Cheika’s watchful eye, they’re unlikely to experience the same iconic cultural landmarks of Harcourt Street, Krystle Night Club and the world-renowned 5am stroll back to the Burlington Hotel as part of their build up.
Of course, we know Cheika’s Aussies are a different proposition and even though they lost against a worryingly resurgent, if seemingly tired, France in Paris, they’re always capable of creating havoc and possess threats all over the pitch.
Israel Folau, he with hands of silk and behemoth feet (size 15 boots, if you don’t mind) and the explosive Tevita Kuridrani are two of several flying backs Ireland will want to shut down quickly. And whether it’s panto bad boy Quade Cooper at outhalf or Bernard Foley (shouldn’t he be playing for us?) they certainly have the smarts to cause us problems.
England have finally moved the robotic Owen Farrell from the outhalf position as they prepare for the usual physical assault that comes with playing Samoa. While Sky Sports keep reminding us this match is exclusive to them (it’s okay, you can have it), anchor commentator Miles Harrison reminded us against South Africa that despite his admirable and noble attempts at unbiased commentary, sometimes he just can’t help himself . . . when perennial “sly dog” Dylan Hartley got himself into trouble again last week after clearly stamping on a prone Eben Etzebeth, Harrison sighed “well, I’m not sure, controversy just follows Hartley wherever he goes”. Hmmm.
Hartley must be caught in the middle of yet another conspiracy then.
With all the hullabaloo about the IRB not allowing us to hear the TMO anymore – (what in the name of transparency are they thinking?) – we actually could hear Jérôme Garcès’s chat with ref Steve Walsh. Consistency, how are you! Not that it made any difference.
The TV audience or Walsh hadn’t a clue what the Frenchman was saying, so with a flick of his fringe and a quick groom of his eyebrows, he produced a yellow card. You suspect no matter how long Walsh spends in the gym, he spends more time at the mirror.
The days of John West with frayed twine around his whistle and his shorts up to his armpits, seem like a hazy blur. Maybe that’s no harm come to think of it.
Ireland to win, and send us off into a merry stupor of predicting impossible things can happen next year. But they’ll put us through the wringer first. Sure you wouldn’t have it any other way.