Wednesday 21 February 2018

Thomond's blast from the past

This evening in Limerick, for the second time in two years, touring rugby turns back the clock. The meeting of Munster and Australia in Thomond Park has almost slipped under the radar such has been the international emphasis on the series.

Munster matches against major touring sides are special and tonight will be no different. It will be the ninth match against the Wallabies and, having played in three -- '76, '81 and '84 -- in my time, believe me when I say lining out against Australia holds the same reverence for Munstermen as facing down the Haka and the All Blacks.

Robbie Deans and Co will be in no doubt whatsoever that this matters hugely to Munster folk and, given the Antipodean connection, through Tony McGahan, Laurie Fisher and Jim Williams, the desire will be intense and the ground shaking.

Included among the Wallabies' replacements is one of Garryowen's favourite sons in Van Humphries, while compatriot Paul Warwick will be centre stage in red.

On a personal level, I long for a return to the time when the visit of major tourists would form part of a six or seven-match Irish tour programme. This evening, those new to the experience will see and better understand just why. And with the Moyross kid (Keith Earls) back on board, expect the north city venue to rock to that unique Munster touring vibe.

Irish Independent

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