THERE ARE TIMES when your captain has to step forward and make a play, or take a tackle, for his team.
Brian O’Driscoll did that on Thursday as he fielded questions from a roving reporter from a popular New Zealand sports show called The Crowd Goes Wild.
The reporter in question was James McOnie, who specialises in being slovenly dressed and asking questions intended to bemuse or infuariate.
It was funny for a few weeks back in 2006 (when the show first aired and I lived in Auckland) but the horse has been well and truly flogged.
McOnie dived into the questioning after Declan Kidney named a rousing starting XV to line-up against the All Blacks on Saturday.
“There’s a bit of a division in Ireland” he began. “I want to know where you guys stand are you Boyzone or Westlife?”
That is some comedy for you right there.
Declan Fitzpatrick answered in preference for Pearl Jam while O’Driscoll, fixing him McOnie with a quizzical stare, opted for U2.
The chuckles keep coming
He may have gleaned a pearl of musical wisdom but McOnie was not finished.
To give you a taster of the reporter/comedian in question, here he is interviewing Christian Cullen last year.
YouTube credit: tcgw
The other question he posed was, however, brave and honest.
He put to O’Driscoll something that many Kiwis have been saying about this Irish touring team – even if you lose you can’t lose.
All eyes on Brian
McOnie reasoned that the Irish tour would be deemed a success if they were victorious in even one game against the All Blacks but written off as a tough ask against the world champions if the lost the series 3-0.
“You could look at it that way, I suppose,” answered O’Driscoll. “Having played a lot of Test matches, I don’t think that you ever feel that you’ve achieved anything unless you’ve won.” He added:
I don’t think you ever look on things as in you have a freebie opportunity.
The Irish captain eased back in his chair as he warmed to the task of answering a testing question. He continued:
We’ve said it for a few years that at some stage in the future, whether it be this year, next year or in 20 years time, some time an Irish team is going to beat the All Blacks before the world implodes.
“We just have to make sure to try and make it now rather than waiting for our kids, or our kids’ kids to see it happen.”
You had to hand to O’Driscoll – his handling remains as deft as ever.
Reason to believe
As for the team announcement, the inclusion of Simon Zebo, Dan Tuohy and Keith Earls featuring at inside centre – possibly switching roles with O’Driscoll as the game progresses – has awoken a joie de vivre amongst the travelling journalists.
If we go down on Saturday, it seems, we will go down swinging.
*You can follow all the latest news, comments and goings on from the Irish camp by following @patmccarry on Twitter and by regularly checking in with TheScore.ie.