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Maori All Blacks Coach Comically Recalls Last Visit To Thomond Park As A Player

Maori All Blacks Coach Comically Recalls Last Visit To Thomond Park As A Player
Gavan Casey
By Gavan Casey
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The New Zealand Maori received a fine welcome to these shores this week, and even joined a Tipperary school for training earlier today, but it's not a first-time visit for all players and staff.

Speaking with Charlie Mulqueen in the Irish Examiner, Carl Hoeft, a member of the Maoris' management team, regaled with his memories of the last time he touched down on Shannonside, over 11 years ago.

Then a front row forward for a Castres team who were bulldozed home and away by a Munster side which went on to lift its first Heineken Cup, Hoeft had some particularly fond memories of Peter Clohessy, and scrummaging against The Claw's old partner-in-crime John Hayes:


That was in Thomond Park before it got fixed and it was a hard game.

Back then, you had a great side with a lot of experience, Paul O’Connell, lots of other Irish players and Lions players and I remember the crowd; there are great supporters here and I think they eat, sleep, and breathe rugby. Very parochial. It’s more like New Zealand in that regard.

I remember Peter Clohessy; didn’t he have a pub downtown?

But I played mostly loose head and came up against a bald prop, John Hayes, a big man.

That description of The Bull is just beautiful. Were you to utter the words, 'Bald prop, big man', to a previously undiscovered tribe in the very bowels of Brazilian-Peruvian frontier, the name 'John Hayes' would invariably be thrown back at you.

Of course, it's also now clear where the 2005/06 Castres squad sunk a few post-match pints after their 42-16 hammering at Thomond. Peter Clohessy's Bar. The Sin Bin. The stuff of legend, and still badly missed in Limerick.

Hoeft went on to describe to Charlie Mulqueen the links between Munster and New Zealand rugby, and it's clear his admiration for Thomond remains to this day:


Well, of course, they have beaten the All Blacks and probably should have beaten them a few years ago, as well, so our guys understand that they are going into a rugby stronghold and, to be fair, if you have to play an overseas team, this is a great place, one of the best in the world.

The full interview with Hoeft and potential All Black winger James Lowe (who recalls Dougie Howlett's 2008 haka vs New Zealand) can be viewed over at The Irish Examiner.

SEE ALSO: Watch: Clonmel School Perform Hair-Raising, Hurl-Led Haka To Welcome NZ Maoris

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