29 October 2004
The much-respected London Wasps lock. He still can't find a bed that fits and he wants to be an estate agent. Weird.
How are you enjoying the new England regime?
If it hadn't been for a niggling neck injury I'd be enjoying it a lot more! I haven't been involved as much as I'd like to have been because I've been in rehab while the boys have been out on the pitch. But there's definitely a refreshed look about the place - you can sense it - and the squad are certainly enjoying it. Whenever someone new comes in at the top he's going to bring in some ideas of his own and with any change there will be a renewed focus and interest. So yes, it's been very good.
What's your reaction to Jonny Wilkinson being named as captain for the three Autumn Internationals?
He's the obvious choice, isn't he? To be selected as captain you've got to be someone who's one of the top players and you've got to be a person who leads from the front and controls the team and its patterns of play. Add to that the fact that it's Jonny who decides where the ball gets kicked most of the time and there's no real argument that he should be captain.
What's the best thing about being six foot nine? And the worst?
There's not a lot that's great about it, to be honest. Maybe it impresses the ladies, but the cauliflower ears and the broken nose will tend to hinder that! You can be persuasive with people, I suppose... especially bank managers! The worst thing is that it's still very difficult to get a comfortable seat on a plane and your feet always hang over the edge of the bed!
You only took up rugby aged 16. What different perspective has that given you in comparison to other players?
I lived in Kenya for seven or eight years and in Spain for six years, so I played a lot of soccer and basketball. I think combining all the sports helped me to develop skills that playing rugby alone wouldn't have done. I was shoved in the second row for obvious reasons, but I didn't just want to be a �jump in the lineout, push in the scrum' player. That didn't interest me.
How frustrating has it been being recognised as international class - as you always have been - and then happening to play in the same position and at the same time as Martin Johnson?
I've always said I think I've been equal to anyone else in the position, but at the end of the day it's down to the coaches to make decisions. They may decide you don't fit into the side or that you don't partner another player as well as someone else. There are a lot of different things that go into those decisions and you have to accept it and keep plugging away. I've been doing that for 10 years now and I fully intend to keep doing it.
Clive Woodward said his decision to leave you out of the 30 man World Cup squad was the hardest he'd made as England coach. Have you forgiven him yet?
(Laughs) No!! It was the biggest blow I've ever been dealt, from the point of view that I was playing some of my best ever rugby at that time. Everyone I spoke to seemed to think it would be worthwhile taking me. Then I got called out as a replacement for Danny Grewcock for the last three weeks and it was virtually impossible to break into the side. I was disappointed not to get on against Wales in the quarter final. I think Johno was carrying an injury and I really thought I'd get a chance.
Then when you did make the team on the summer tour you ended up getting sent off against the All Blacks. How did that come about?
I think it was an error of judgement on the official's part. When he red carded me I was astounded and gobsmacked. I've been treated far worse on the ground in the past by many a Kiwi, so the decision was pathetic. When I looked at it later on video, at worst it was clumsy. But there was definitely no malice.
Do you feel that your international time is now?
Well I was a lot more confident of that before my neck injury. But you can never take anything for granted. There's a lot of competition for places in my position and there are some guys coming through - like Alex Brown at Gloucester and Louis Deacon at Leicester - who are doing really well. Lock has always been a very competitive position for England, so it's nothing new.
Should we be panicking about England's recent poor run?
I don't think so. It was always going to take a while for the team to gel again. There are new players and it's a new management set-up, so it will take a while to settle down and find a rhythm. It's hard enough to do that with a club side when you're together every day, week in, week out. There's a lot of young talent in the England set-up, so there won't be a problem.
You're middle name's Dalton. Where on earth did that one come from?
I think it's Irish and came from my great, great grandmother. I've always been given a lot of stick for it, so I tend to leave it out when I'm filling in forms. I don't see what the problem is myself. It didn't do Timothy Dalton any harm, did it?
You played in New Zealand early in your career. What did that teach you about the game?
I was only 17 at the time so it was a real baptism of fire. The rucking was a hell of a lot more serious than I was used to, which is pretty ironic given what happened to me down there in the summer!
Do you still have a go at the shot put and discus?
That was a long time ago at the age of 14 or 15 when I was doing that. I find there's not much call for it these days!
You say your favourite possessions are your big sofa and telly. Just how lazy are you?
I'm not lazy, but I did manage to buy an incredibly large sofa so I can lie on it and take afternoon naps, which I do enjoy. I think I got it from Sofa Workshop.
We can see why you're proud of it. So what's your most prized rugby possession?
I'm not really one for collecting items. Obviously I keep my medals, but as far as shirts go I'll keep one and give the rest to charities or friends.
What are you going to get up to when your rugby career is at an end?
I'd like to go into property development; I find the whole thing interesting. I don't think estate agents provide a very good service, so I'd like to start a company that gives the client some benefit. I think I can be a different type of estate agent and get rid of the cowboys.