Shane Horgan and Lawrence Dallaglio’s retrospective of the disastrous 2005 Lions tour features a cameo from one Roy Keane.
The tour is notorious for several reasons, most notably the injury suffered by Brian O’Driscoll just minutes into the first Test and the severely ill-judged appointment of Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell as PR manager, but according to Horgan, Keane foresaw doom right from the start.
Before heading to New Zealand, the Lions were staying in the same hotel in Wales as Manchester United, the Premier League side in town to face Arsenal in the FA Cup final in the Millennium Stadium.
As the two former Lions explain in a piece for the Sunday Times, the “talk,” as it was, was brief and deflating, but n typical Keane blunt fashion:
Shane Horgan: Before we left for New Zealand, we were staying in the same hotel in Wales as the Manchester United team, who were there for the FA Cup final against Arsenal. We fell in with some of their players and asked Roy Keane what he thought our chances were…
Lawrence Dallaglio: “3-0 to New Zealand, you’re gonna get smashed.” Part of me knew what he was saying was true but it’s one thing thinking it, quite another to be so blunt in saying it.
SH: There’s a social convention where you tone that kind of thing down but he was in full Roy mode. It wasn’t very inspiring. That said, and maybe it was different for me because it was my first Lions tour, I was incredibly optimistic.
The Lions did indeed go on to lose all three tests against the All Blacks, a fate that Warren Gatland and the 2017 group will be desperate to avoid this time around.
(Man United, incidentally, didn’t fare much better, losing to Arsenal in a penalty shootout after a 0-0 draw in Cardiff.)
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