An ex-Leicester man at Wasps… how?
I know. If you’d told me when I was playing for Leicester that I’d end up playing for our greatest rivals of the day, I wouldn’t have believed it either.
Happy with the move?
I’m delighted to be here. There’s a good bunch of young lads and I’m the grumpy old man who’s trying to steer them around the pitch.
At 33, can you still learn things?
I believe so. Stephen Jones has retired to become backs coach and I’m learning off him straight away. I think I’ve still got a lot to offer.
Proudest moments of your long career?
You always remember your first cap, which came against Italy in 2005. Winning cup finals with Leicester was memorable and I was also particularly proud to play in Super 14 with the Sharks.
How do you remain motivated?
Easy. This is my 17th pre-season as a pro and you wouldn’t put yourself through it if you didn’t love the game. I’m very competitive and live for game days. Playing on Saturdays is what gives you the buzz.
Not the best start to the season?
No, missing that kick to beat Quins on the opening day was devastating and losing at Exeter wasn’t much better, but we’re confident we’ll improve.
Where did you start out?
At Barkers Butts RFC, in Coventry. Danny Grewcock, Neil Back and Leon Lloyd all started there, too. I went to Nuneaton after that before joining Coventry.
Rugby idols growing up?
It pains me to say it, but Rob Andrew when he kicked that drop-goal to beat Australia at the ’95 World Cup. In later years, Andrew Mehrtens was a hero of mine.
Best players played with or against?
Dan Carter’s the go-to man in my position but I’d say John Smit at the Sharks was an unbelievable leader. I’ve played with Martin Johnson and Neil Back, too, so I’ve been lucky to play alongside some legends.
Play any other sports as a lad?
I was a decent batsman at cricket. I got offered a professional contract by Warwickshire when I was 16, but rugby was my first love and I chose that.
Anyone you played cricket with made it big?
Ian Bell. I played week-in, week-out with Belly for Warwickshire and he’s gone on to become a multiple Ashes winner with England.
Ever think, ‘what if I chosen cricket?’
I’ve watched Belly’s career develop and he’s done exceptionally well, but I’ve not regretted anything.
Seventeen England caps, could you have had more?
You always want more caps but in my era Jonny Wilkinson set the bar high and you had Charlie Hodgson and Toby Flood as well.
Enjoy your ‘old school’ reputation?
You’ve got to have a Corona now and again, haven’t you! Nothing wrong with the odd beer and a bit of relaxation with the fans.
How do you chill-out away from rugby?
I’m a single dad with a nine-year-old daughter, Ella-Grace, so that kills all my spare time. I do simple things like walking the dog.
Still take the dog training?
Yes, Megan still comes to kicking practise – but she’s 12 now so instead of chasing balls and barking at me, I’ll just take her for walks.
How’s your football team doing?
Coventry City are going down the pan. It’s disheartening – they’re not even in Coventry, they’re playing in bloody Northampton!
Pet hates and annoyances?
People who sit in the middle lanes of motorways and untidy people. I’m OCD around the house.
Best and worst dressed at Wasps?
Best is probably me and the worst is James Haskell, comfortably. He loves his sneakers and jeans combos … or ‘sneans’ as we call them.
Hopes for the season?
A top six finish and a massive driver of mine is to play in the Heineken Cup again. I’m stuck on 49 games and you get a cap for 50.
An ex-Leicester man at Wasps… how?