In a new exclusive column, our man in the know reveals the secrets of life as a professional rugby player.
By The Premiership Insider. Last Updated: 10/04/13 4:33pm
"I don't want to be part of the story. I want to be an anonymous, quiet onlooker who tries to work out what the hell is happening - it's not easy - and then tells other people about it. I don't like being a figure in the thing." John Simpson
This article serves as more of an introduction to the column rather than anything risqué. It merely lays out the boundaries and concepts.
The "What?" is simple, an inside look at professional rugby, as told from a player's point of view, a man on the inside if you like.
The "How?" is key, in an era of media training and a phrase book of over used clichés ("game of two halves", "go away and learn from the mistakes", "no we love a reset scrum") my identity has to be kept secret. A clandestine viewpoint means I can be honest and, if needs be, ruthless. Hopefully bypassing the well-trodden route of ghost-writers and mind-numbing, trite comments from high-profile spoon-fed meatheads that punctuate every post match interview.
I am in no way claiming myself to be a non-meathead. I just have a cloak of anonymity that allows me to be more open about the real opinions of players at the Premiership level and beyond.
The "Why?" is also integral. Too often people's opinions are based on what the commentators say, both on television and also in the press. It is needless for me to point out that these experts may not always have the insight that my privileged position as a player allows me to witness. Pundits, commentators and pen-pushers are likely to be a subject matter in a future article so I will avoid ruminating further.
Hopefully, however, this very small article will in some minor way alert the public to the view of the players. Not just of those watching the game. I also sincerely hope that I do represent the views of the players. Or some of them at least. It also allows me valuable journalism experience for the dreaded post-rugby career somewhere over the horizon.
The "When" is the loosest and most transient issue. It really depends on whether I can be bothered to remove my ankle strapping and head guard and sit down to write and more likely, whether something irks me enough to prompt me to sit down and actually concentrate. Alternatively if there is anything that you'd like to ask about then please just add it in the comments box below.
I had better at least mention rugby and in particular the Heineken Cup games from the weekend. What did we learn? That Saracens have an all encompassing, suffocating defence that can strangle the life out of any team. Can it quieten the glitterati of Toulon? Leicester put in a heroic effort in doing just that. But for Jonny Wilkinson. Transpires he can still kick and with no sign of ball tampering. Discipline will provide the key in the battle.
Chris Ashton has had a lot of abuse of late about his defence and discipline. However, that lad has devastating pace and showed he still has the finishing instinct. One opportunity is all Sarries require if they can shut out the French men. (Sort of French men? Team based in France...)
Munster rolled on through London. It was a welcome return for Paul O'Connell. He is a monster, and perhaps more importantly he is a refreshed monster.
No doubt he was gutted to be out of the Ireland set-up. Especially when they could have done with the totem of leadership that he provides during the Six Nations. However the break could see him hungry, fit and revitalised for the tour in the summer. Ask the England players how they felt after the Welsh game and along with all the understandable sentiments of dejection there would be an overriding sense of being physically and emotionally drained. International rugby is a year-round slog. The break may just be the best thing to happen to O'Connell and possibly the British and Irish Lions.