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John Hayes | Answering Ireland's Call

Off The Ball
Off The Ball

06:35 11 Sep 2019



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Former Ireland prop John Hayes has spoken passionately about his experiences in a green shirt, in the latest of our series 'Answering Ireland's Call'.

The Limerick native was proud to wear the Irish badge 105 times in total, and spoke to Off The Ball about how he found he was going to make his debut for the senior squad.

"First would have been up in the hotel in Dublin - we were in since the Sunday and found out on the Monday evening that I was going to be starting at the weekend.

"At that stage, it would have been a ring home back to the parents. A quick phone call back down, but I did get slagged about it at the time!

"I wouldn't have been a fella that says all that much, but they were laughing at how long the conversation was taking!"

"To get to that point, it really is something special to ring them and let them be the first people to know that you have finally got there. I would have been there or thereabouts, being in the squad a few times."

It was the current British and Irish Lions coach who was responsible for John being called into the squad in the first instance.

"I was playing for Munster at the time, and we'd been going fairly OK, so you just felt that if you kept playing well with Munster that you would finally get in the door.

"It was Warren Gatland that was the coach at that time. He came to the room, knocked on the door and just had a bit of a chat and then went away.

"He left, out the door, and he came back saying 'We're going to start you at the weekend - do you think you'll be up for it? I said 'I would, yeah!'

"He is a bit like myself in that he doesn't say a whole lot, he turned around and left and I was left there thinking 'Am I going to be playing, or..?'"

John also remembers the phone being important in his career, with so many matches being played away from home in far-flung lands.

"In 2006, after we won our first Heineken Cup Final in Cardiff, my wife Fiona wasn't over because our first baby - Sally - was coming.

"We all got in after the presentation, and I remember getting the phone and going straight into the shower area and rang Fiona from there.

"I can remember just having a chat - that would have definitely been one of the reasons why I can remember not joining in with that."

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