Diary – Thursday
Thankfully, yesterday was a day off, a lie-in gratefully accepted by your editor after an evening spent in Dicey O’Reilly’s watching Ireland play Saudi Arabia. The place was packed with green clad supporters roaring on the Irish, the noise level probably resulting in the headache felt this morning.
The activities planned for the day include a school visit by squad members and lunch with pupils from 10 Otago country schools at the Savoy restaurant. Then there’s golf, clay-pigeon shooting or go-karting. Ronan O’Gara and Brian O’Driscioll are among the group who opt for golf at the Otago golf course at Balmacewen. John O’Neill, John Hayes and Alan Quinlan go clay-pigeon shooting and Mike McGurn and the Easterby brothers lead a group of 11 to an old warehouse down by the railway station for karting. McGurn is more that adept at this pastime, posting 18 second lap times with New Zealand liaison Peter White no slouch either. But the real surprise is the Skunk. The man who has taken his share of (good-natured) abuse over his lap times in the team bus, fairly scorches round the track and leaves us thinking maybe we’re lucky that Brian Lamond (that’s his real name) adheres strictly to New Zealand speed limit restrictions.
Thursday morning sees the arrival of David Wallace who is whisked from the airport to Taieri RFC to meet up with his teammates. At lunchtime sitting outside a coffee shop in the Octogon, customers are treated to a walk-past by Jonah Lomu, Norm Maxwell and other members of the All Blacks, their progress totally unhindered by autograph hunters. Later on it’s a visit for the Ed to Carisbrook with Ron Palenski to check the press facilities which, to put it mildly are, impressive. Workers are busy putting the final touches to the ground with spray painters out on the pitch putting in the logo of match sponsor Phillips.
Because the game will be played under lights – the first time a Test has been played here at night – the plan is for the squad to visit the ground in the evening when Ronan O’Gara and David Humphreys will practice their kicking.