Belfast Telegraph

Billy on the Box: It’s all a raw deal for Terminator George Hook

Nature has decreed that, as a rule, I am not at my most cheery and ebullient at 7.00 o’clock of a Sunday morning.

I care not a jot that thousands of miles away it is the evening time and thousands of badly dressed sports fans are tanked up whilst dressed in all manner of greenery proclaiming to be Irish because they like potatoes.

The biggest decision I want at that time of the day is to which foot I slip first into my novelty Davy Tweed slippers and whether I can write notes whilst snuggled up in my David Humphreys duvet on the settee.

So to be faced with the choice of which channel to watch the game on is akin to handing a prop forward two shovels and telling him to take his pick — confusion abounds. ITV or RTE?

I plumped for ITV. Well, UTV to be precise, but whisper it quietly as it’s Irish rugby and sometimes you feel that we’re a wee bit of an after thought when it comes to team selections.

“Okay, we’re letting a few of you come to New Zealand. Only four of you mind, and the one who isn’t really from Northern Ireland, and youse might have to make do with a half against Russia but learn the words of Ireland’s Call and you’ll be grand,” was how it probably didn’t happen.

In the studio, Craig Doyle got the nod as presenter, edging out Mrs Doyle, the Dail, the curly one from the Professionals and a doily that used to sit on Jonah Lomu’s cistern below the novelty Bill Beaumont toilet roll holder.

It was our boys against the US of A so naturally our first chat with Lawrence Dallaglio and Girvan Dempsey was about how Martin Johnson’s boys had got on the day before.

They were rubbish. End of chat and on with the game please and the reason why we’re up at the crack of dawn, with the golden generation about to show the world that those four wee blips before heading south were simply a cunning plan.

It must be really cunning as Ireland were every bit as dire as England. I began to long that it was actually Monday and ITV would interrupt the coverage to bring us the best of Daybreak or Lorraine Kelly talking about women’s bits, but to no avail.

I took decisive action. A deft change of formation on the settee allowed me to reach the remote and with the pressing of three buttons I was Dublin-bound where there appeared to be dry ice in the studio but on closer inspection it was steam emanating from the collective lugs of usual suspects on the RTE panel.

They would lift our flagging spirits with words of solace. Conor O’Shea was ‘underwhelmed’, Brent Pope was ‘very disappointed’ and George Hook well, he was George Hook.

Running man Tommy Bowe had provided some hope and clearly it was this type of last action hero that George was subliminally longing for as he gave us his views on Eddie O’Sullivan’s side.

“The American pack is so bad, Tom Court is like Arnold Schwarzenegger in the scrum,” he said before reprising the old Kit-Kat advert a little later.

“They can’t scrum, they can’t line-out, they can’t maul and restart and they can’t kick,” he hinted but didn’t add ‘they’ll go a long way’ and you get the feeling if George had four fingers going spare they’d be allocated two to each hand and directed Declan Kidney’s way.

The weather in New Plymouth was like old Larne, lashing down but this wasn’t an acceptable excuse for the damp squib. Well, not for Mr Hook.

“Let’s not start talking about the rain! It doesn’t rain in California! So the one team that should be struggling here is the Americans!” bellowed George as Governor Court would have concurred and told is it would be a great place to live.

Things improved, marginally, in the second half but George’s glass wasn’t so much half empty as strewn in shards across the floor

“Well, it would be very easy for me to be apoplectic,” said George. You don’t say, but then he didn’t, adding: “And I’m not. I am deeply saddened. This is my country. This is my national team. This is, you have to say, a very, very sad day for Irish rugby.”

Indeed it was George, still, look on the bright side, it’s only the Aussies next.

Belfast Telegraph

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