“Who’s the player you most fear on the All Black side” was one of the questions put to the three man player panel who went to Roncalli Secondary School to meet some of the 400 students.
The players in question, Malcolm O’Kelly, Paul Wallace and John O’Neill, were in a packed Assembly Hall to answer questions from entusiastic fourth years and it was O’Neill who handled the curve ball with the reply that, “It’s not a question of fearing any one player. We don’t. But we respect them as individuals and as a team.”
After the morning training session and then a walk in the pool, the players were spilt into groups to visit selected schools.
Alan Quinlan, Shane Byrne and Gary Longwell went to The Sacred Heart Secondary School.Anthony Foley, Ronan O’Gara and Simon Easterby visited St Joseph’s Primary School while Geordan Murphy, Marcus Horan and Leo Cullen went to Timaru South, Primary School.
All the players were impressed by the the interest of the pupils and even more so by their courteous manner.
In Roncalli, the group were met by Deputy Principal Gerry Fennessy and Teacher in Charge David Mills. What the children wanted to know varied from, “Where in Ireland do you come from.”
“How much are you paid.”
“Do you want to win (v All Blacks).”
“Did you ever see a leprechaun.”
“We have one with us,” said O’Kelly.” His name is Peter Stringer.”
With that as a signal that the Q & A was over it was left to Andy Scott, captain of the schools Senior XV and a farmers son from nearby Kerrytown, to come forward and present the players with a school pennant whose motto read.
To Seek Truth And Peace.