Keith Wood has described childhood friend and Munster and Ireland teammate Anthony Foley as the “gel” that held both sides together.
His death has shocked the rugby world and Wood knew Foley better than most having grown up with him in Killaloe.
In an emotive, heartfelt interview on Monday morning Wood remembered his late friend’s hurling prowess, his ability on the rugby field as a promising youngster and the time Zinzan Brooke asked sheepishly if he could attend Foley’s testimonial dinner.
Wood, talking to Pat Kenny, said: “I would’ve put him [Foley] as the gel for an awful lot of good players to play better around him.
“Sometimes he didn’t get the credit he deserved. Quite simply, when he was at the back of the scrum you never had to think of what was happening, he led from there and in the manner he played.
Feeling numb and alone with only thoughts of this remarkable man.My protector on the field,I will miss you forever Axel.
— Peter Stringer (@stringer9) October 16, 2016
“He did the right thing at the right time. It took him a period of time to get into matches — it could take him three or four games to get him match fit but once he was match fit, he was phenomenal.
“He was incredibly robust, didn’t get injured all that much. He was fantastic.”
One anecdote Wood offered remembered when “Domino’s Pizza used to give a pizza to whoever scored the first try at Thomond Park and Anthony got a hat-trick to just make sure”.
Wood continued: “He had a wicked, dry sense of humour but talking about him in the past tense is unbelievably surreal.
“I don’t know how long it’ll take for the funeral but it’s trying to get those nice memories out and to try and smile a little bit at the moment if it’s possible. It’s heart-breaking.”
www.espn.co.uk – RUGBY