Andy and Owen Farrell may be one of the most successful father-son partnerships in sport right now but the Lions starting test fly-half has revealed this tour to New Zealand has been strictly business with the squad’s defence coach.
Asked how much he spoke to Farrell senior, the Ireland defence coach, as his dad as opposed to his coach, the England star said: “Not too much as my dad.
“I don’t think I’ve spoken to him on this tour as my dad. Just as anybody else would as a playing coach, there’s lots of little conversations that go on in making sure that everything’s covered, the basics of the week, and not all of it goes on in meetings and in front of everyone and things like that.
“He might just grab you as you’re walking past or on your computer and just have little chats about what’s coming up; ‘have you thought of this and how would you deal with this situation’. Just so it’s covered off in your head and then you can move on from it really.”
Which must have made for a strange day last Sunday when the Lions players who are parents were treated to video messages from their offspring as a Father’s Day treat.
“I didn’t know when to say it to him because I didn’t want to say it in front of anyone,” said Owen. “Everybody got some video messages, they didn’t ask me to do one so I was a bit gutted about that.”
Fun times ahead
Much has been made of the one-eyed nature of some of the rugby media output in New Zealand but one of the aims of a new sports app and website, based here but founded by Limerick man Gareth Dineen, is to encourage some healthier debate around the game.
The family name is synonymous with Munster rugby given the legendary status of Limerick’s “Voice of Rugby” Len Dineen, long-time commentator on the Treaty City’s 95FM. His expatriate son is one of the movers behind the 1014 Kiwi Sports App (the1014.co.nz).
Naturally enough, the Lions’ first tour to New Zealand in 12 years is taking centre stage right now, but Gareth Dineen quit his job in the movie visual effects industry recently — his credits include Avatar, The Hobbit, The Avengers, and this summer’s blockbuster Valerian — to see if there was room in the market for sports coverage with a slightly wider remit than purely the majesty of the All Blacks.
“I suppose I spent my childhood following dad around going to games, talking to all the players and coaches, holding his coffee, so sport has always been part of my life,” said Dineen, whose playing career saw him represent Munster schools, U20, and development levels before captaining Old Belvedere RFC.
The new app echoes that sort of sporting background, he said, pointing to a mission statement which reads: “The 1014 has a proud, positive, and optimistic attitude towards sport. “We are bringing sportsmanship back into sports content. Kids first get into sports because of friendship and stay with it because it’s fun. We are loyal in support of our team and respect the opposition. Most of all, we love it and we have fun with it.”
Iain Henderson is a first-time Lion and is enjoying plenty of first-time experiences in a squad comprising players from four different countries, yet rooming with fellow lock Maro Itoje, currently also a politics undergraduate, led the Ulster forward into unfamiliar rugby territory as the players began discussing Northern Irish politics.
“I’ve never had that with another rugby player,” said Henderson. “That was the initial discussion. He was talking about politics and I was talking about Northern Irish politics, and our current inability to form a government. Then in the last week or so we have discovered that the Conservatives and the DUP will be forming together to get rid of this hung parliament, so to speak.
“So I was just explaining to him again this week some of the — I’m trying to choose my words very carefully — some brief summation of Northern Ireland in terms of Stormont and the politics that goes on in it.” Sounds slightly more serious discussion between room-mates than the banter and bromance between back-rowers Sean O’Brien and James Haskell being played out on their Instagram accounts.
If you’re of a desperate nature and looking for test series omens, then the result from the 12:37 at Pukehoke may be informative. In a five-horse race for two-year-olds at the racecourse just south of Auckland, Azaboy came third with Anahera Lass a distant fourth. Azaboy, making its first start, was bred and is part-owned by a certain WD Gatland while Anahera Lass can count Sir Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads among its owners.
Strike one to the Lions!
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