Having the chance to go the RaboDirect PrRO12 media launch, and to interview my side’s captain and head coach, is something I am never going to forget. I can’t thank RaboDirect PRO12 enough for putting on this competition, picking me as the winner and providing me with such an amazing experience.
The media launch is an incredibly frenzied area of activity, and I was initially completely overwhelmed. I’d never so much as interviewed someone before, so to say I was out of my comfort zone would be an understatement! I was looked after well, and directed straight away to the Scarlets’ press table in one of the interview rooms, where I got my chance to question Scarlets captain Rob McCusker.
Rob instantly put me at my ease; he was friendly and completely professional and gave some great answers to my questions.
One of my main questions was what the captaincy meant to him and how he thought he’d cope with the responsibility.
“It means a lot, partly to be asked by Simon. Simon led the region successfully for a number of years, and I’ve been with the club for 8 years now, and there’s been a lot of good captains before me. So I’m honoured to be on the list of captains….
….The boys are making fun of me for my grey hair; think I’ve gained a few more over the last couple of weeks! It’s not been too bad so far, I can imagine it ramping up a lot once the season kicks off, but it’s been good so far. I’ve had a bit of stick, but nothing I can’t deal with.”
I was also interested to see what the squad at the Scarlets was like to work with.
“Yeah a lot of us are at similar ages, we’ve grown together over the last few years, and it’s not like coming to work really. We’re a big group of friends away from training as well so it’s a joy to come in really. We’ve a lot of banter, a few practical jokes, a few too many sometimes, but it’s a good environment”
And who is the main joker? Rob himself rather abashedly owned up to that!
He also had plenty to say and who he considered to be the up and coming players and the ones to look out for:
“From our young internationals it would be easy to mention George North…..
Sionie Timani, I think he’s trimmed down, is looking hungry and I think he’ll have a good season.
We’ve got a good couple of youngsters; Samson Lee has played particularly well over the pre-season and Kirby Myhill once again is going to be involved a lot with us this season”
From questions to the coaching set up to squad recruitment, Rob was happy to answer everything so after such a nervous start it was great to be able to relax so quickly.
The next task of interviewing Simon Easterby turned out to be much more difficult. I soon learnt just how short a time journalists get to question players and coaches, as the Scarlets contingent was quickly swept off to the radio and television areas.
During that time the RaboDirect PRO12 team showed me around the venue, allowed me to have my picture taken with the trophy and I was also allowed the opportunity to interview the other team’s captains. Shoving the nerves aside I did manage to speak with the likes of Andries Pretorius, Lewis Evans, Johann Muller and Paul O’Connell.
To be able to approach standouts of the game like Paul O’Connell and have the opportunity to interview them was incredible. All of the players were friendly and happy to take the time to talk. Being placed in a room full of just male journalists was quite intimidating, so it was even more refreshing when these rugby players took time out of their busy day to speak.
It was coming towards the end of the launch when I finally got to speak to head coach Simon Easterby, and I had the good fortune to get a few words with Scarlets chief executive Mark Davies too.
Easterby seems to have been made for the position of head coach. He answered all the questions with ease, and was frank and honest about where he sees the Scarlets going and what they need to work on.
“We haven’t made the Play-Offs in the league or the Heineken Cup quarters for a while, but in the league we’ve had two top 5 finishes so that has to be a real target. And a challenge for the players is …. to kick on and get a bit more consistency in our performances.”
Mark Davies finished off the interview with a message for the Scarlets supporters.
“To the supporters I would just say that I am very proud of the fact that I think we’ve got the most committed supporters that you see anywhere… These are the people that make the difference because these are the people that make the recruitment …possible at the end of the day, and that’s what keeps us going.”
It was a nonstop morning, and a real eye opener at that, but it was a great experience. Being able to see the inner workings of a media launch and having the opportunity to interview such important people involved with my region was a true privilege. Thanks once again to RaboDirect PRO12 for making such a wonderful day possible.