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What's Going On Down Under?
10 October 2003, 11:01 pm
The talking ended around 8am Irish time last Saturday and from an Irish point of view the World Cup began.
The talking ended around 8am Irish time last Saturday and from an Irish point of view the World Cup began.

Of course there would have been massive interest in the match the previous night between Australia and Argentina but Irish focus would have been on the Romanian game. But the Munster interest would have centered principally on the return to action of the big man from Bruff, prop John Hayes, who made his long awaited return to the park in the second half.

He came on as a 55th minute replacement for Marcus Horan and by general consensus shored up a front five that had been given a torrid time by the Pumas. Horan, after an iffy start found his way and he will be all the better when Hayes is restored to his rightful place on the right of the front row. Peter Stringer eased himself into this competition without fuss and when he was joined by his regular partner Ronan O Gara, you got a flavour of what Munster can expect later in the year.

Paul O Connell continues to grow in stature on the world stage and he will soon become as important to this Irish side as Hayes and Stringer. In the back row Anthony Foley had a good game until replaced by Alan Quinlan and the man from the junction certainly imposed himself in the type of physical encounter he thrives on.

If there was one disconcerting decision from a Munster viewpoint it was the substitution of Donnacha O Callaghan. That took place in the 80th minute of the game when he was sent on for flanker Keith Gleeson. Now what is surprising is why coach Eddie O Sullivan waited so long to give a player who has had such little game time a run. And particularly as O Connell s partner, Malcolm O Kelly remained fairly anonymous throughout the entire game.

Maybe O Sullivan intends to use O Callaghan against Namibia but if so would he not have been better off with a little more than two minutes of football under his belt.

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