Code. It’s on everyone’s lips at the moment – how well the Irish did taking down the Australians last week? Why the English don’t seem to completely convince the crowds that they’ve won the game? whether the All Blacks will have stepped up to the plate over the weekend? What is not of question is how well the teams around the country are doing promoting the sport at the grassroots level. Since arriving in Dunedin, the English have been to Christchurch, done a hospital visit and when I met the English centre and wing, Manu Tuilagi, they were schooling the First XV of Otago Boys in a few passing drills. Only twenty-years old, Tuilagi has been compared to Lomu since rising through the English leagues. What you might not know about him is he rates O’Driscoll as his toughest opponent (granted, after Saturday) and he actually likes heights.
How did you rate the Otago Boys First XV today?
Really good, good stuff there.
Did you pick up any tips?
Absolutely. They have a different style of play from where I’m from.
How are you enjoying Dunedin so far?
Not too bad.
The student population treating you well from the stands?
Yeah, the crowds are amazing. At both games. It was quite surprising; there were a lot of Georgians last night.
You have been compared to Jonah Lomu throughout this tournament; his strength was seen in his power and speed, have you tried to build on these skills?
Jonah Lomu was my idol; he is the absolute star of this game. For me, I just try to be the best I can be.
In terms of your preparation before the game, do you go through a particular routine?
I wake up… pretty late. If it is a late game, I have a bit of a lie in. And then I have my meal about three hours before the game so I don’t throw up on the field.
How are you looking forward to playing the Romanian side this week?
I am really looking forward to it. It was a tough game last night but we got the win and I got a try which was good.
Did you get to watch the Australia-Ireland game on Saturday?
I did, the Irish boys came out firing which was great to see.
Speaking about competition, your brother is playing for Samoa and was unfortunately beaten by the Welsh the other day, how has it been competing with family in the RWC?
It’s hard luck that they lost out. I always talk to my family and with my brothers, but my brothers always chuck a bit of banter my way. But at the end of the day, it is just rugby.
Every player is confronted by the reality and possibility of injury, how do you overcome it?
Sometimes it’s unlucky; you are just in the wrong place at the wrong time. One of our players has gone home already after one game with a shoulder injury. It proves how privileged you are to be fit and be playing. I got an injury on my hamstring and I was out for two months and it was absolutely horrible, very frustrating.
Graham Henry has come out and said that the strategy in the All Blacks camp is to take the competition as a whole instead of one game at a time, what is the mentality of the English team at the moment?
I think it is just taking it day-by-day, game-by-game. You don’t really want to look too far ahead because you’re missing the right here and now. It’s just taking it day-by-day and getting a win and to perform.
Are they giving you a bit of time off to explore Dunedin and its surrounds?
Yeah, definitely. After training, if you haven’t got anything on you can have the evening to go out and do whatever you want which is good. We have a day off once a week to do…
And you’re finding things to do ok?
Last week was really fun in Queenstown.
You headed white water rafting I understand?
We went jet boating and up in the helicopter where we saw some amazing views. We didn’t get a chance to do a bungee jump.
Would you rather bungee jump or sky dive?
I would do both.
You’re not scared of heights?
I am scared of heights, but I would like the experience. I always give things a go.
Would there be anyone in the English side who wouldn’t be as keen?
There are a few boys. Lewis Moody, Ben Youngs and Courtney Lawes, and Jonny. Enough said about that.