Lee Byrne Column: I just couldn't watch as Steve Jones lined up that last kick
Sunday 22 March 2009
All the talk after the match was about Ireland's Grand Slam and all I got left with was plantar fasciitis. What a night.
"Plantar what?", I can hear my mates in Bridgend saying. A foot injury, in other words. It was nothing, really, I was just running and something clicked in the bottom of my foot. The plantar fascia runs along the sole and it's a bit bruised.
So that was it for me, after 35 minutes of the final match of the Championship. It was going well, I was enjoying the atmosphere and at 6-0 up in the first half I really wanted to be out there with the boys.
I couldn't watch when Steve Jones lined up that last kick to win the match. It was the 80th minute and he would have been pretty tired. If it had been after 30 minutes I think it would have been within his range and he would've got it.
There was another big moment a few minutes earlier, when we had to go back for a line-out in our 22 after kicking the ball out. It was one of those things which happen in the heat of the moment, and it cost us as it led to Ronan O'Gara's drop goal.
The boys got into O'Gara in the first half. We did target him. And he came out of it with a dropped goal at the end, so well done to him. I feel we could have won that game but fair play to Ireland. They were solid, they pinched a lot of our line-out ball and anyone who's watched Munster these last few years would have found the game plan pretty familiar. Kicking to the corners, pick and go – it was Munster all over, nothing flash and nothing brilliant about it. Just a typical Ireland win.
I didn't swap my shirt afterwards, and I expect that was because my opposite number wanted to keep his Grand Slam jersey. Can't say I blame him really. At least at the Millennium Stadium the changing rooms are a fair way apart so we couldn't hear them singing. That would have made it worse.
Wales have scored fewer tries this year and people say we have kicked too much. I would point them to the experimental laws and the refereeing protocols. Wales have not been playing less adventurously, just differently.
We certainly had it on our minds to be adventurous against the Irish yesterday, chasing the 13-point win we needed to be champions again. But the game has changed compared with last year and we have had to change with it.
My favourite single moment was my try against France in Paris. A lovely line opened up off a pass from Stephen Jones; a great bit of team play and a nice run-in for me in a fantastic stadium in front of thousands of travelling Welsh fans. To be picked for every match – the first time that's happened to me in my fourth Six Nations – was very satisfying.
I am always setting the bar higher for myself, and that inevitably leads to thoughts of the Lions tour this summer. Throughout the Six Nations it has not been on my mind at all. But I watched the last Lions tour, to New Zealand in 2005, on TV at a mate's house, and I know a bit about the history.
It would be great to think that I'd be in the middle of it all this time around in South Africa. Every player wants to be on the tour and I'm no different, but I'm taking nothing for granted. Last night proved that nothing is predictable in this game.
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