Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Lion's Den

I think the Lions Tour has to be the pinnacle of any rugby players career, awaiting to hear about the squad announcement was a very nerve wrecking two minutes and like everyone else, I heard about the call up through Skysports.

To have 14 Irish players in the initial squad is a sure sign of where Irish rugby is at the moment, a real testament to the level of coaching in the country. Ian McGeechan is a great man to have in charge, he has that element of old school combined with new era of professionalism that is so important in the game.

Everyone knows South African rugby is a force to be reckoned with, however I¹m confident if we gel both on and off the field we are more than capable of success on the tour. The provincial games beforehand will give us a feel for what the games will be like as well as getting the opportunity to play with some of the greatest players in world rugby. I¹m especially excited about the game against the South African Sharks who won the super 14 cup last year, it will surely be a great contest and give us a feel early on about what South African rugby is all about.

On a lions tour is important that everybody makes a strong effort to get to know to know one another and already the slagging has started which is always a good sign. I¹m really looking forward to playing with all the players, there are a lot of really good Welsh players and the cream of English and Scottish too. I¹ve always admired the tour, a dream which I¹m now living, back in 1997 that famous behind the scenes DVD (Living with Lions) gave me a real sign of what goes on, so it¹s a bit surreal being involved. I was fortunate enough to already have some experience down in South Africa having been involved with the U 19s world cup squad in Durban.

Off the training pitch I can¹t wait to see the Champions league with the lads tomorrow night, the bets are been taken heavily by the "bookmakers" in the squad and as a Manchester United man I've loaded on them..... they better come good for me but I¹m confident we can do a job on Barcelona, it¹s good to see O¹Shea getting a start, Tevez has to stay in my mind both players are more than deserving of a start I predict a 2-1 victory. Rooney Ronaldo for the scores! come on the reds!!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Champions Of Europe

We were in a really tight game for the full 80 minutes and as you can imagine, the final whistle could not have come sooner. It has been a long time coming and I can safely say it is an incredible feeling to have been crowned champions of Europe. The support from the crowd was mind blowing, and to see so many people in Edinburgh was overwhelming, Murrayfield really was a sea of blue, like nothing I could ever have imagined. We, as a team really are very lucky to have such passionate fans. It was a match of tremendous physicality, Rocky Elsom was a colossus but the whole team showed a work ethic worthy of the Cup; we had the edge and now we have our place in history.

The province has come a long way and for us this is the culmination of many years of hard work, blood, sweat and tears. A successful season thus far with hopefully more to come. We travelled home that night, the atmosphere at the airport was incredible, everybody was singing and chanting and wanting to congratulate the team.

I did get to celebrate a little, but had to drive my car home first and change luggage as we had an early Sunday morning flight to Heathrow to join up with the Lion's squad. One rollercoaster to the next, tough not getting to celebrate with the lads for a few days, but Lion's duty takes over and I hope to get as much game time as soon as possible. Needless to say I did manage a bit of celebrating prior to departure and had a good 11 hour sleep from Heathrow to Jo Burg, our first port of call...

We did not train on Monday and the Leinster and Leicester Heineken Cup players will not be involved in Saturdays first game. I am rooming with Simon Shaw of England and Wasps, a top bloke..

I’m feeling good after two days of rest and looking forward to getting on the field this afternoon for training.

Hi all, welcome to my Lions tour diary.