Ireland squad tour Christchurch quake 'red zone'14/06/2012 - 07:58:13
The Irish rugby squad has taken part in a bus tour of the central Christchurch red zone.
The red zone remains cordoned off after the devastating earthquake in February 2011 that hit the Central Business District and led to the deaths of 185 people.
The squad, in the city to play the second Test against New Zealand on Saturday, were joined by coach Declan Kidney and scrum coach - and former Crusaders player - Greg Feek.
New Zealand-born Feek, whose wife is from the Christchurch area, said many of the players sat in stunned silence during a tour that started at Oxford Terrace and finished up at Cathedral Square.
He said: "Initially [for] the Irish boys, it was just another bus ride but we were just coming down the street there and it started to kick on and got pretty quiet."
Feek added: "When you realise what the street was, when you're going down Colombo Street or Manchester Street around there, you start to think 'hang on, there was a little old haunt there' or something like that. You do struggle to recognise things here now."
The New Zealander sold up his house in the area after moving to Ireland to coach the national side and Leinster in the art of scrimmaging.
Many of his family and friends have remained in the area, said Feek, and some of them have struggled.
"For me, Christchurch is special because of the people in it, and you always come back for that," he added. "You just hope that the city can get going again."
Ireland head coach Declan Kidney said: "I hardly recognise since the last time I was here. I suppose when you have the experience of sitting next to somebody during that, you can just feel the emotion and it's hard not to be wrapped up in it."
He added, "When you see the energy of everybody and what they're putting into it, people have rolled up their sleeves and just got down to work.
"You hear the different stories of people being asked not to work seven days a week, just to do the six days to get it up and going, that tells you all you need to know."
There remains the matter of the second Test against the All Blacks at the AMI Stadium on Saturday evening.
"It's certainly going to be a special game," said Feek. "Hopefully what we can do is make it a really good spectacle so everyone can enjoy themselves.
"I feel for the Canterbury people who didn't get a game at the Wold Cup. Everyone felt for them, for all the provinces it was pretty tough."
Kidney added: "We played New Zealand last Saturday night, we got an aftershock from that ourselves.
"We were obviously disappointed last Saturday night in a rugby context but this puts it all into true context. That was just a game, this is real life."
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