As 2011 draws to a close, Ulster centre Darren Cave can reflect on 12 months of highs and many lows associated with his rotten run of injuries.
A combination of knee and hamstring injuries have seen Cave spend as much time on the treatment table as he has on the pitch which put pay to his World Cup dream. But having started the season with a try in Ulster’s 24-18 defeat of Glasgow in the RaboDirect PRO12, the 24-year-old is now approaching the sort of form that won him two international caps in 2009.
1. What’s the strangest Christmas gift you’ve ever received? That would have to be a belt which instead of a buckle it had a flashing LED screen that you could decide what you wanted to scroll across.
2. What’s your favourite thing about Christmas? My favourite thing would definitely be the rugby. We always have some big derby games against Leinster and Munster over the Christmas period and they are always great games.
3. Tell us your all-time favourite Christmas movie?I don’t really have a good reason why but my favourite is Elf.
4. What’s your favourite Christmas song?Definitely Merry Christmas Everyone by Shakin Stevens. Everyone always says Fairytale of New York but I think Merry Christmas Everyone is a bit less mainstream.
5. What’s your worst-ever Christmas experience? I would say that was probably last year when the whole squad had to come and clear snow off the ground on Boxing Day so that we could play our game the next day.
6. What’s your favourite Christmas decoration? I live with Chris Henry and we haven’t even got a Christmas tree up or anything yet. But when it is up I would say the best thing will be some nice lights.
7. Which RaboDirect PRO12 player would you like to have as your secret Santa? I would say Rory Best because he has recently been crowned the richest man in Ireland. He owns half the town where he comes from so I would expect a big plot of land or something from him.
8. Which RaboDirect PRO12 player would you invite around for Christmas Day? Niall O’Connor. Since he has moved to play for Connacht we don’t see him much anymore and when he does come back to Belfast he goes to see his girlfriend and not the lads so it’d be nice to see him on Christmas Day.
9. If you were one of Santa’s reindeer, what would your name be? Rudolph because it’s the only one I can remember off the top of my head.
10. What’s the worst Christmas present you’ve been given? I am very spoilt by my family for presents to be fair so I really can’t complain about any presents I have ever had.
11. Which rugby player in the RaboDirect PRO12 would make the best Santa? Declan Fitzpatrick – he has got the right build definitely. All he would need to do is to throw on the outfit and the beard and he would be perfect.
12. What’s been your highlight of 2011? Rugby-wise I’d definitely say Ulster getting to the Heineken Cup quarter-final. I was injured and missed the game actually but just being around the place at the time was great.