They say never meet your heroes. They’re wrong. Today, after training, media and meetings, we met Joost van der Westhuizen. He really is worth meeting.
The day kicks off, as usual, with monitoring and breakfast for the players. That’s followed by some analysis time, squad meetings and then a bus journey to St. David’s Marist School in Sandton for training.
Africa is home of the ‘big five’, but for training there’s a different ‘big five’ needed:
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) June 14, 2016
The squad are put through their paces in an intense session and one or two feel the effects of the altitude.
Flanker Rhys Ruddock is quick to point out, however, that they would be suffering nearly as much at home after a session that tough:
Lunch back at the hotel is followed by media and kicking oach Richie Murphy gives the squad reaction to CJ Stander’s one-week suspension.
Jarred Payne, Jamie Heaslip, Rhys and Devin Toner are all up for media today as well. After that there is another tough workout, this time in the gym.
Then comes one of those special evenings that come about through rugby. An invitation to the J9 Foundation dinner to support former Springbok captain Joost van der Westhuizen’s Motor Neuron Disease charity.
There is a standing ovation for the squad in appreciation of their taking time out to come along and support the great man’s event. There is an even more richly deserved ovation for the man himself.
Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell prove a good double act as part of a Q&A session and both share memories of Joost beating them or their teams.
The players also support the auction with Jack McGrath, Eoin Reddan and Ireland team manager Michael Kearney among the bidders.
A truly special evening with a legend of the game. God bless Joost.
Tour Diary Week 1: Cape Town
Arrival In Cape Town – A warm welcome and a dip in the sea
Training Day – An intense session against an incredible backdrop
SharkCopter – A day of rest with great white sharks
Team Announcement Day – the team for the first test is announced
Captain’s Run And Coaching Kids – Last run-out in Newlands and a school coaching session
Match Day & History – Ireland beat the Springboks for the first time in South Africa
Travel Day – Farewell Cape Town, Hello Johannesburg
Tour Diary Week 2: Johannesburg
Making A Splash – A pool recovery session and watching the Euros
Altitude & Joost – Training at altitude and a chance to meet a legend and hero