Ireland and London Irish scrum-half tells Honey Wood his views on networking, 3G pitches and the season ahead.
What are your hopes for the season?
I’m particularly looking forward to the season ahead because so many players are aiming to get selected for Lancaster’s squad and that promises to add a lot of spice to games in the build up to RWC 2015.
Unfortunately, we lost the first game to Quins, but pre-season is a taxing time both physically and mentally, not that I’m making excuses. As with any team with hopes of breaking into the top 6, we have a tough road ahead to negotiate.
Upham Brewery are now sponsors, which must be pretty motivating for the team?
Absolutely. The three-year sponsorship promises to be a great partnership that coincides with the opening of Hazelwood. With the new facility and new sponsors, there’s a lot of positives going on for the club, which I’m very proud to be a part of.
What are your thoughts about playing on the new artificial surfaces?
I don’t think it’s as forgiving as a natural surface, which means you tend to ache that much longer after having played on it. However, a lot of the younger guys really like it. I think it’s very much a matter of personal choice, with age often playing a deciding factor on whether people prefer to play on it or not.
What advice would you offer newcomers to the game when it comes to planning for life after rugby?
I’d tell them to attend as many rugby events as possible; something I will be doing when I have the time that, typically during the season, is midweek. Many business opportunities become apparent at such functions and, apart from building up valuable connections, it’s a good craic.
In particular, I’ve made valuable contacts through events organised by the RBN. I would encourage others to do the same because you get to meet real enthusiasts of the game, which means you find yourself on a level playing field.
Lastly, which teams are the ones to watch out for in the Aviva Premiership?
I think Northampton is the team to beat, with both Leicester and Saracens joining them as favourites. As previously mentioned, there are a lot of guys out there who are aiming for a place in the national squad and that means a lot to play regardless of league position.