Wednesday was our day off so it was down to the 'activity club' to come up with options for the lads - I'm not sure but I think Gav (Duffy) was involved there somewhere even though he didn't seem to be doing much. Being a cute back, he probably delegated it out to David Wallace.
Wally really embraced the role and left no stone unturned. The options were golf, shopping, cinema, sky tower, sleeping and eating (for props!), bungee jumping off the harbour bridge (absolutely no chance I was doin' that, Portumna Bridge would be too high!), sailing and, for the management, a visit to a vineyard to check out the local wines.
But, as I mentioned the last day, we had our Connacht team-mate Troy (Nathan) and his girlfriend Eimear as our host for the day.
They were perfect hosts and we had a very good day. We saw some sights, shopped, ate and basically just hung out and enjoyed our day off.
We finished off the day with a lovely romantic meal...for five!
Thursday, June 10:
It was back to business on Thursday. Meetings and training were the order of the morning, and we also said goodbye to Auckland and hello to New Plymouth.
New Plymouth is a lot like Galway, I reckon. It's on the west coast with big winds and seemingly a lot of rain. And there was I thinking it was gonna be a few months before I'd see those conditions again!
The New Zealand media aren't too pleased that we have left it so late to arrive in New Plymouth so we've been taking some flack in the national press - added to that they also saying the All Blacks will dominate the forward battle...interesting!
After a short flight, we arrived to a welcome from the local mayor and also a song and dance from local Maoris.
Our management played a joke on us telling us that we had to sing back to them after, and that they would be highly insulted if we didn't. I had to physically hold Sean Cronin back as he wanted to do a solo effort and he was quite annoyed afterwards. I think he was going to do a number by Lady Gaga.
Thankfully, our bagman Rala (Paddy O'Reilly) came to our rescue and belted out 'The Contender', before our manager rescued the whole situation and cut him short after hearing enough for one day.
Sean and myself are head of cinema club so it's our duty to keep the lads happy tonight. These are not an easy group to please.
They expect everything done for them...reviews of films, tickets booked, taxis sorted to and from the cinema. And they are not too happy unless they get gold club, which basically means there's a waitress there to bring your popcorn to you, etc. As I said, they're hard to please. Not so easy when you're in a three-screen cinema!
Friday, June 11:
Friday is a strange day. We have a light run through which only lasts 30 minutess or so to stretch out and make sure everybody is happy. But apart from that, it is a boring enough day. Some final video analysis, some complusary R&R (as if I don't sleep enough!) and lots of food and water is the highlight of the day.
I also have a new roomie in Ulster's Andrew Trimble. I've never roomed with him before. He's a really nice guy. I don't envy him as he's on the music club with Paddy Wallace. He has to have a CD ready every second day for the bus to and from training.
It's not as easy as it sounds and I've listened to a lot of music today. As I said, this crowd is hard please.
Thankfully, it's coming close to game day. It's been a long few days. It just won't go quick enough. I want to be in the dressing room already. I feel like a seven-year-old on Christmas morning.
The anticipation is killing me. Hurry on Santa, I'm ready...!
John Muldoon's diary is reproduced with kind permission from Connacht Rugby.
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