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Have Boots Will Travel

Have Boots Will Travel

David Wallace was on his way from San Francisco when he, ‘just happened to phone home to check in’. The message was that Brian O’Brien wanted him. Now like. – In New Zealand.

That’s the life of a professional rugby player and Wallace found himself making plans which most certainly didn’t include surfing.

“Yeh, I hadn’t checked in for a day or two and so I was a bit surprised to find out that I was needed in New Zealand.

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Eh, so was Aileen (girlfriend).

”We’d just left San Francisco and were planning to stop off at a few places along the coast but instead we made our way to LA airport to get the next available flight because Brian had asked me to get out there as quick as possible.”

“The next available flight was the following evening and I arrived in Dunedin on Thursday morning, Brian collected me at the airport and we went out to meet the lads at training. I didn’t do anything that day because they were three quarters way through the session, so I just watched the rest of the session.”

”Fitness wasn’t a problem because even in off-season I would be doing enough to keep things ticking over. So when I heard I was on the bench for the first Test I was pretty confident things would go all right. The same thing happened last year when I’d come off three weeks holiday to go to Australia and had to play in a Lions match almost as soon as I got off the plane, literally two or three hours after the journey.”

”Despite the lay off, and it was only three weeks, I was delighted to be on the bench and would have loved to get on the pitch. I would have been a little bit nervous because although I’d have known the calls I wouldn’t have had much time to actually go through the calls – timing, where about in the line I’m meant to be jumping or lifting – and because it’s a big game against New Zealand and I wouldn’t want to mess things up. But no I certainly wouldn’t have minded coming on.”

”We didn’t win. We had the chance to win, we gotta kick ourselves a bit because we got chances we didn’t take – we’d a lot of chances really – and we really need to be putting those away against a team like the Blacks.”

”Now afterwards there was a lot of talk about them not playing well. But there was a reason they didn’t play well. Because we didn’t let them play well. We pressurized them and we played very well in defence. We attacked well too but just couldn’t finish them off.”

“OK they (Blacks) won’t be happy with their game because they knocked a lot of ball, but a lot of that was due to pressure from us. There are usually reasons why teams don’t perform and we can take credit for that.”

Last time down here Ireland nearly pulled off a shock in the first game and then got creamed in the second. Does Wallace think that can happen again?

“No I don’t think so. Irish rugby has come too far. That was back in the days when things in Ireland were very amateur and down here it was almost professional. I think we really will compete on Saturday.”
”Hopefully New Zealand will think that last week was a one-off and all that they have to do basically again is turn up and iron out a few problems. But I think we’re going to surprise them again. The atmosphere in this Irish squad is just brilliant, so totally different from what I experienced on the Lions trip. The morale is superb and there’s a great buzz around the place.”

”I mean before we came out, after a long hard grueling season, the media saying we needed it like a hole in the head, it’s just been great and it showed last week out on the pitch.”

And what about the holiday?

”Yeh, I hope to finish off the holiday on the way back. And no I don’t expect any phone calls this time.”