GEORGE HOOK AND Eddie O’Sullivan had a score to settle in the late 90s when one man was making strides as a rugby pundit on RTÉ and the other was assistant coach to Ireland.
The duo were previously close, with O’Sullivan coaching under Hook at Connacht and overseeing the US Eagles’ matches at the World Cup in 1987.
Hook is on the record in stating the pair were responsible for grooming Jim Staples, Tom Clancy and Simon Geoghegan for Ireland careers.
Their paths diverged when O’Sullivan won a power struggle to get the head coach role of the US team and, despite a clear-the-air meeting several years later, turning back is no longer an option.
Hook told Club Rugby magazine, “I wrote at the time that Eddie’s appointment [as Ireland manager in 2001] was the best thing to happen to Irish rugby. I was Eddie’s greatest supporter.”
He added, “Then I started my campaign, which took 10 years for me to be proved right, that the Irish scrum wasn’t good enough, which led to some tension between us.
Eddie famously went on the record and said ‘George Hook is talking bullshit. Ireland has a fantastic scrum.
“He then went to RTÉ and basically wanted me off the station, which reopened old wounds between us and we drifted apart and didn’t talk.”
The full interview with George Hook is featured in Club Rugby magazine (available free next Monday in the Irish Independent)
Ever the self-promoter, Hook talks up his abilities to spot talented players and call out those that are not up to scratch.
He said, “I believe what makes me a good television pundit is because I have seen it and I have done it.
“When I said a 19-year-old fly-half who played for Cork Con. was probably the best since Ollie Campbell, it was Ronan O’Gara.
“When I said John Hayes couldn’t scrummage, I told abuse for 10 years [only] to be proved right.”