Spending three months away from work was problematic for some of the players but I was very fortunate. I was working for a subsidiary of Midland Bank, on a graduate trainee scheme, and they very kindly agreed to pay me in full and the only concession was that I used one week of my annual holiday allowance. I thought that was a pretty good deal!
By the time I felt well enough to start training, there had already been a couple of games, so I was always in a race against time to make it for the Test series. I played in eight games and the highlight would be the hat-trick I scored against South West Districts. JJ Williams got six that day, so nine tries came down the same flank. As I got fitter and fitter, I pushed myself too hard and tweaked my hamstring. I thought it would be okay after a week or two but it never really got better, not to the point that I’d be considered for the Test series anyway.
The Lions is the pinnacle, it’s what you dream about growing up. It was obviously disappointing not being involved in the Tests but, by the same token, getting there and being in that environment was still a heck of a thing. For me, the Lions at that time were the closest you’d get to professional rugby with the way that it was managed by Willie John McBride and Syd Millar. We’d be training every day, and it would be taken very seriously, and we’d have the best food available; nothing was too much trouble for us and the players were always put first. I think Fran Cotton had steak every meal – breakfast, lunch, and dinner!
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