Keith Wood: "He was never the fittest or fastest guy, but he was the smartest guy"

Keith Wood spoke to The Pat Kenny Show about his friend Anthony Foley

Keith Wood: "He was never the fittest or fastest guy, but he was the smartest guy"

Anthony Foley and Keith Wood celebrate after Munster's 2000 Heineken Cup semi-final win. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Keith Wood and Anthony Foley played together for Munster and Ireland, but before they even reached the highest echelons on the game, they were childhood friends in Killaloe, Co. Clare. 

Foley passed away overnight in Paris this weekend, aged 42. He was with the Munster tea, that were scheduled to face Racing 92 on Sunday afternoon in the Champions Cup. 

Speaking to The Pat Kenny Show on Monday morning, an emotional Wood remembered the life of the player that was affectionately known to team-mates and friends as Axel.

"It didn't make any sense yesterday. It doesn't make any sense today. It's just unbelievably disturbing."

"I knew him since he was five or six years of age. The Foley family moved to Killaloe, they were redoing a pub at the end of our street. The whole Foley family moved into our house for about three months."

"He was a man who loved sport. He loved the town. He was shy, but sociable. Driven beyond all belief from as early an age as I remember."


Anthony Foley, Rob Henderson, Keith Wood and Peter Clohessy on the Ireland team bus in 2000. Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

"He was never the fittest or fastest guy, but he was the smartest guy I played on a field with. He was invariably wherever the ball was."

While Foley will be remembered as a rugby player, he also had a love of hurling, Wood added.

"He played for Clare Under-16s. He was a very capable left-sided hurler. He looked so much bigger than everyone else. He was well able to hurl. He loved it... We would have played with a lot of that Clare team that won that 1995 All-Ireland. The two of us went to the game together. It was fantastic."

With 202 caps for Munster, Foley played for the province through the amateur and professional eras, and Wood noted that he was one of the team's leaders at both provincial and international level.  

"He was a one-club man. He played for Munster his whole life. That's pretty extraordinary... He didn't speak a huge amount, but everything he said was perfect. He knew the right thing to say at the right time. He knew the right thing to do at the right time." 

"He had a wicked a dry sense of humour. The fact that we are talking about him in the past tense is surreal."