MOD: 'There's a world outside the dressing room Rob, just in case you miss it'
Rob Kearney launched the Guinness Newbridge collection this week and, keen to reveal his self-awareness, confronted the mirth that this role might provoke among his peers.
"When the players see it," he said. "I'm expecting a slagging. We get it with everything. It's when you don't get slagged that you need to be worried."
It's worth noting this, as it echoes similar comments by Brian O'Driscoll in his recent autobiography.
Recounting how he was photographed by the press being kissed by his then girlfriend Glenda Gilson, he wrote that his chief concern was the slagging he would get in the dressing room.
"It can be a savage place and I know what's coming next. ROG sees the picture and savours every word in the article, with its cringe-making reference to Posh and Becks. In the business of ripping the p**s out of people, he's already world-class."
Not only does this vignette reveal how modestly the intellectual bar is set in the changing room - Ronan O'Gara's comment on last week's Late Late revealed, if nothing else, that his wit is hardly "world class" - but it also shows the insular world in which players exist.
Because while good-natured, dare one say infantile slagging, is acceptable to our exalted rugby stars, more pointed criticism, especially when it comes from people outside their immediate circle, is a different matter.
In an interview last weekend, Kearney made a veiled reference to certain non-professional rugby pundits, claiming that "some of them do take cheap shots. They try to sensationalise things, maybe try and look for a little bit of attention. There are others whose opinion I would respect - Ronan O'Gara, Shane Horgan, Brent and Conor O'Shea, they all speak a lot of sense".
George Hook, sensing he was the target of Kearney's opprobrium, tackled Rob's comments with gusto.
Savaging his attempts to be judged purely by his friends, Hooky said: "We are not paid to say they're wonderful, we're paid to look at the match and give our opinion."
He followed this up by suggesting Rob should "get lost".
I never thought I'd say it, but I'm with Hooky. With their cosseted lives, media adoration and testosterone-fuelled culture, there's a danger of our rugby stars turning into blinkered, pampered egomaniacs who will literally "get lost" when confronted with the real world after their careers are over.
There is life outside rugby, opinions worth listening to outside the changing room and people worth talking to besides former players. It's a big, beautiful world out there, guys. Open your eyes.
No smoke without ire as fuming Finian ignores facts and makes mug of himself
IT'S good to see that James Reilly's anti-smoking measures have received unilateral, cross-party support and that he plans to tackle the threats by tobacco companies to take legal action against plain packaging head-on.
Describing it as unilateral support, however, is to ignore the contribution to the debate made by Independent TD for Dublin North Central, Finian McGrath, who displayed a staggering ignorance of the subject this week.
All couched under a general plea to leave smokers alone and stop picking on them, McGrath started out by not even being able to get his facts rights, insisting that 25pc of the population are smokers when, according to the HSE, it was 28pc in 2003, 21.5pc in 2013 and is now 19.5pc.
Far more disturbingly, McGrath even seemed happy to cast doubt on the widely accepted link between smoking and cancer.
Commenting on a report that came out recently suggesting the link between the two wasn't all it seemed to be, he criticised the media for not giving the doubters publicity because, and I quote, "it's not trendy".
Not content with this fatuous nonsense, he then pointed out that as well as smoking being bad for you, "so is going down to McDonald's, or having six or seven pints. All I'm saying is don't spend your life beating up smokers".
So the nub of McGrath's argument is that because there are other things that are bad for you if consumed to excess, we shouldn't target smoking, but instead let children grow up unaware of its dangers and let innocent workers be exposed to the dangers of passive smoking.
It would be easy to dismiss McGrath's idiocy as a rare, isolated incident, but unfortunately it's not.
The good news is that such cretinous beliefs are on the decrease.
In fact, according to the latest statistics, I believe they are held by less than 20pc of the population.
Dressed for work? Who's sari now Ray?
FOllowing news of an American woman allowing herself to be dressed by her small child, Ray D'Arcy gave the experiment an Irish flavour this week and agreed to be dressed by his daughter.
And kitted out on day one in a sleeveless white shirt, tiny waistcoat, un-knotted white tie and baby blue scarf - worn under the tie and across the chest like a sari - Ray is perhaps grateful that he's currently only on RTE radio and his mooted TV career hasn't yet begun.
Because to the question of what you look like when dressed by your eight-year-old daughter, the answer is sadly predictable. You look like a 50-year-old man dressed in an eight-year-old's clothes.
WHen UTV Ireland was launched six months ago, an insider stressed that Pat Kenny's much-anticipated new vehicle would not be a chat show. This week, however, it has been revealed that it will be a chat show.
Well, kind of, because filmed in front of a live audience, Pat's offering will be something like Piers Morgan's Life Stories, but not quite.
"The kind of show I want is that when you switch on, you won't know. It won't be formulaic. It could be one person interviewed. It could be four people. It could be a row." All of which - and correct me if I'm wrong - still makes it a chat show.
It's hard to know, to be honest, what to expect. Bizarrely, with only two months to go, neither the station nor the presenter seems able to describe it.