The news of a well-known band or musician visiting the Ireland camp to entertain the squad in the lead up to an important game is not uncommon, however, this was a visit with a difference.
This week, Ireland head coach Andy Farrell enlisted the help of one of the country’s greatest exports, Bono, not to perform for his team but to remind them of what it means to be Irish.
The timing of Bono’s visit to the Ireland camp is well thought out. The side received heavy criticism and a knock to their confidence after a disappointing World Cup campaign but now have the opportunity to collect their first piece of silverware on Sunday in Twickenham if they overcome their oldest and fiercest rivals – England.
Conor Murray spoke about Bono’s visit at the Ireland media day this week and said that instilling that sense of identity in the squad is something Andy Farrell is very passionate about.
“Faz wants to give us a sense of our identity. He is doing that through our training but also through things like speaking to Bono and last night he talked about Irishness, what it means to be Irish and what’s special about it.
“That’s definitely something that Faz is bringing in and something we as a team are really buying in to. It is quite exciting.
CJ Stander elaborated more on Bono’s words and how Ireland can evoke them in enemy territory at the weekend.
“He gave a great response: ‘Irishness is not something you can put into words, or something you can define, it is not something you tap into, it is something that is in you.’
“I’m not saying it is in me but I have seen it over the years coming out of players and people. He said it is something that comes out when the going gets tough.
“It was supposed to be for an hour but he went over, an hour and 40, which was unbelievable. I checked the watch and it felt like 10 minutes. He can talk. He’d done this with a big group before so we didn’t have to ask a lot of questions.
“Honest chat, honest chat to all of us.”
Another visitor to the Ireland camp this week was Paul O’Connell who looked to impart his wisdom and experience where he could. Murray explained that it was a brilliant opportunity for the young players who have not interacted with the Munster legend before.
“I haven’t chatted to him too much. He has been lurking around but for the lads who don’t know him that well just to be able to sit down and have a chat with him and listen to him, similar to Bono in a way, just getting as much knowledge and information out of him as you can.
“Just having a guy like that with the presence he has and what he has done in the game is great to have around.”
Stander was also quick to praise the “calmness” that O’Connell brought to the team, maintaining that he made time for everyone.
“I have seen him go around the place and talk to some of the younger boys and surely they can learn something from him. It is good for me to see him around the place, he brings calmness/
“He has years and years of experience and brings calmness and confidence in the group. He doesn’t have to talk that much. He is going to give us a bit of feedback and it was good to have him in the room. He has been there and dealt with situations a lot. To have him around to be able to ask questions about how to stay calm and how to enjoy these moments.
“He is one of those guys if you need advice you can call him. He has time for everybody. He really makes sure he listens.”