Despite being by his own admission one of the most dropped players in the history Irish rugby, Mick Galwey knows better than most what it means to fight for your jersey. Galwey was capped 41 times by Ireland and spent 11 seasons in the famous green shirt before retiring from the game in 2003.
The former Munster man was the special guest on our From The Horse’s Mouth podcast this week and the conversation with hosts Paddy Power and Ruby Walsh swiftly turned to Ireland’s chances in the 2021 Six Nations tournament, which kicks off this Saturday. Since taking over from the great Joe Schmidt in November 2018, Ireland coach Andy Farrell hasn’t had much luck in the competition and two third-placed finishes has been the best his side could muster.
That’s something Galwey would like to see rectified in the 2021 edition of the tournament and he sees England as Ireland’s biggest challengers this year. But, the former Irish captain feels the English have “bullied” his country on the pitch over the last number of season and that has to change if Ireland are going to lift the trophy on March 20.
“We need to get to the next level again, the English have bullied us the last couple of years,” said the legendary Munster man.
“It’s not an easy thing to say, but I think the players themselves have realised that. They (England) are not better players than us, but they’ve been more physical than us and they’ve basically bullied us recently.”
Having Paul O’Connell back in there is going to change the temperament.
“He’s going to bring something to the table that maybe the likes of James Ryan and these fellows haven’t seen before in an Irish dressing room. Because you need to have the passion and the bit between your teeth.”
Galwey was no stranger to a few dark arts on the field – and O’Connell was built in the same mould – so he’s hoping his Munster colleague can bring something different into the Ireland management team.
“You need the bit of the bejesus. You can be as fit and skilful and have all those attributes that you need to be a professional sportsperson, but you need to have that little bit of an X factor,” said Galway.
That’s what this Irish team needs.
“They need to get a bit of the heart and a bit of the aggression. Of course, that doesn’t work unless you bring the discipline of playing the game on top of that. I know it’s a bit of a contradiction, but you can be aggressive and play on the line – that’s what England have done.
“That’s why they got to the Rugby World Cup final. That’s why they have been beating teams and that’s why they’ve been beating us the last three years and we need to change that.”
Galwey is confident about his nation’s chances in this year’s Six Nations though, and he believes it may come down to a game with their greatest rivals to sort out a winner in 2021.
“I think we can beat France at home,” Galway predicted.
We’ll certainly beat Wales, they seem to be in a mess at the moment.
“We’ll beat Italy and we should beat Scotland. We need to beat England though, and to do that we need to meet fire with fire.”
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