Touchlines Down Under: Still haunted by Kiwi slurs in Oz
SO, here we are in Brisbane and, after two tough weeks in New Zealand, it is as though a cloud has lifted on this Irish jig to the southern hemisphere.
Ireland's revival against the Maori on Friday, although agonisingly unsuccessful, has given everyone a much-needed boost as they head into the last week of a gruelling season and Brisbane is a good place for good humour.
However, weather-wise, there is no comparison. It is winter here also but the temperatures veer between a healthy 18 and 24 degrees Celsius after the New Zealand cold, allowing the women to wear feminine clothes after the jumpers and jeans (and, on occasion, Wellington boots) of Rotorua and New Plymouth.
Having learned first-hand how precious Kiwis can be about slurs on their homeland, we are happy to acknowledge that both those World Cup bases have positive qualities but no-one could dispute that they are quiet in mid-winter and neither can compare to Brisbane in terms of big city vibe.
Consequently, it was hard to suppress our giddiness on the taxi ride from the airport into the city centre the other day and the conversation with the driver reflected as much.
"Where did you fly in from, mate?"
"Auckland, via Rotorua and I was in New Plymouth before that."
"Aw right, New Zealand. Did you like it there?"
"Ah, it was tough enough to be honest. The weather was pretty rubbish and there wasn't a whole lot to do because everywhere shuts down so damn early in the winter. Nothing against the Kiwis like, or New Zealand, but it's brilliant to see some sunshine and get a buzz again, it's like a return to civilisation."
"That's a little strong mate, did you not enjoy your time there at all?"
"Ah, it was a bit grim to be honest but Ireland losing the two rugby matches didn't help. So, what about yourself, are you Brisbane born and reared?"
"Naw mate, I'm a Kiwi, moved here with the missus a few years ago."
Swear to God, I can't catch a break on this trip . . .
"You cannot be serious? Well, he would know." -- Australia coach Robbie Deans comes over all John McEnroe when informed of England hooker Steve Thompson's assertion that the Wallabies' front-row were cheating.
"If we can sort out his scrummaging, he will be one of the best in world rugby." -- Forwards coach Gert Smal reconfirms his admiration for Munster and Ireland prop Tony Buckley.
9The number of defeats to the Wallabies in Australia since Ireland last won in Sydney in 1979.
Compiled by Hugh Farrelly