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Tuesday 20 February 2018

What's on the menu, lads? Fish -- and a few chips

Louise Hogan

Louise Hogan

FISH and chips was the order of the day for the Irish rugby squad yesterday -- but coach Declan Kidney need not worry that his players have abandoned their strict diets ahead of this weekend's do-or-die clash with Italy.

With the countdown under way to Sunday morning's final group game in the Rugby Wold Cup in New Zealand, the boss booked a bit of relaxation for the players.

Squad members tested their putting and chipping on the fairways of St Clair Golf Club in Dunedin, while others tussled with the elements on the Pacific Ocean.

There may have been a hint of optimism in Ronan O'Gara's beaming smile as he hit a powerful shot from the sun-baked first tee box during the round of golf. But as the Corkman moved closer to the No 10 jersey, there appeared to be only good-natured banter with his rival for the position, Jonny Sexton.

It was a good thing Sexton is no stranger to pressure as Brian O'Driscoll, O'Gara, Denis Leamy and Donnacha Ryan all stood back to watch him drive off at the first tee.

A few miles out into the Pacific Ocean, off Turoa Head, there were plenty of jokes about not letting those slippery blue-jerseyed Italians get away. Tony Buckley was testing his grip as the prop grappled with the big blue cod he had plucked from the seas.

Despite their deserved victory over Australia, a loss this weekend would likely mean the squad trading the sunshine for a plane back to Ireland. And today it is back to work as Kidney names his side for the Pool C game at Otago Stadium on Sunday with a ticket to the quarter-finals up for grabs.

Irish Independent

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