Tag Archives: hyperbole

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country

Vintage era for Sheri: Monster prop is blossoming after move to wine country



19:40 GMT, 14 December 2012

There has been an unforeseen, comic complication for Andrew Sheridan since his transfer to Toulon in the summer, caused by the familiar abbreviation of his name.

'To have “Sheri” as my nickname is not ideal over here, because it means “darling”,' said Toulon's former England and Lions prop. 'OK, the spelling is different, but the pronunciation is similar, so I've had some funny looks when I've been called that since moving to France.'

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Full-bloodied: the switch across the Channel to Toulon fits Sheridan

Yet, if locals are bemused to hear the giant 33-year-old from Bromley – who has also been known as 'Big Ted' in his time – addressed in such a way, he insists they haven't come up with an alternative Gallic nickname so far.

But there is no doubt that the club's fervent fans have taken to him. Sheridan has been a colossal presence in the first half of his first season in the Top 14 league, to make himself truly a darling of the title-chasing team, the city and the region.

He certainly won't talk himself up, though. As he prepared for the second of back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures against his former club Sale at Stade Felix Mayol tomorrow, the destructive loosehead was as understated as ever in his pronouncements. Hyperbole doesn't get a look-in. Sheridan is an engaging character but in an interview, he is far happier asking the questions than answering them.

First, he wants to know the 'inside story' about the Lions coaching announcement. Then, he veers off on a tangent to suggest, with typically dry humour, that hairstyle fashion is now catching up with his cropped, military look. He is amused at the notion of being a trend-setter.

Even when he is dragged back to more orthodox subject matter, there is a light-hearted undercurrent.

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

Galactico gang: Jonny Wilkinson is Sheridan's team-mate

'I've settled in here and I'm really enjoying it,' he said. 'I'm slowly picking up the language – it's a gradual process but we have French lessons every week. I've been picking up the rugby vocab – “le maul”, “le ruck”, “le pick-and-go” – honestly, that's what they say!'

What has been striking about Sheridan's season to date (and let's hope this is not a curse) is his constant state of good health. After so many campaigns blighted by serious injury, he has been able to stay fit. It has been a welcome change.

weekend guide

'I've played in all 17 matches so far,' he said. 'I've had the odd little niggle, but I'm getting old so that is inevitable!

'It's been great to get a run of games week after week, because I spent a lot of time in the previous three years on the operating table. That led to long periods of rehab, which were frustrating, so hopefully this period of playing consistently can continue. I can't say for sure why my luck has changed, but the climate helps. It's starting to get cold now though – I've had to cover up the pool and I haven't been able to go in the sea for a while!'

Sheridan has also relished being surrounded by an array of international-class talent at Toulon. The galacticos include Jonny Wilkinson and Carl Hayman, Matt Giteau, Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Frederic Michalak. His preconceptions have been significantly altered in the case of one new team-mate with whom he had previously locked horns – a fearsome Springbok lock.

'Bakkies Botha is an incredibly tough rugby player and competitor, but he's also an amusing guy, it turns out,' he said. 'I must admit, I didn't expect him to be so funny – he's always coming out with little one-liners.'

Sheridan surely gives as good as he gets on that score, in his own softly spoken way. Asked how he has enjoyed the cultural benefits of being in France, the wine enthusiast – who hopes to find work in that trade when his rugby career is over – said he has already enjoyed trips to vineyards, but he mocked the suggestion that he might have tried his hand at surfing.

'There's no surfing here – it's the Med,' he said. 'The Med is dead! It's a flat sea and I'm no surfing expert, but the conditions here don't appear conducive! It's not for me anyway. I like paddling, going for walks along the beach and sitting in the sun.'

While Sheridan is at the forefront of Toulon's compelling double quest for the Top 14 title and Heineken Cup, he was an interested observer of England's autumn Tests. Having seen clips of the games against Fiji, Australia and South Africa, he watched the series finale against the All Blacks in full and was highly impressed.

'I thought it was a very complete performance by England,' he said. 'They played well in all areas, for the full 80 minutes. That was a very good win to have in their minds.

'There are bound to be tough matches in the Six Nations but whenever they are struggling, the players will be able to think back to beating the world champions, and that should lift them.'

Having been forced home from last year's World Cup by injury after the first pool match, Sheridan hasn't played for his country since.

He has not retired from Test rugby, but he does not expect to add to a tally of 42 caps, including two for the Lions. He was able to watch England beat the All Blacks without a trace of regret about the cross-Channel move that took him out of selection contention.

'I'm not an envious person and I don't get bitter,' he said. 'I'm a proud Englishman so I want England to do well. I knew the situation when I signed for Toulon. I know it is unlikely that they would pick people who are playing overseas. Even if I had stayed in England, Stuart Lancaster has looked to pick a younger side.

'My chances of playing for England again are remote. They've got a good batch of young props already performing well at that level. They would have to have quite a few injuries and find themselves really scraping the bottom of the barrel to get to me again! If I was asked, I wouldn't say no, but that is very unlikely.

'As for the Lions, I won't be involved in international rugby and there are good props all over Britain and Ireland, so that is highly unlikely, too.'

He says it all matter-of-factly. Sheridan is a realist, but in many ways, he is living the dream on the Cote d'Azur. 'I've got to go,' he said. 'It's time to open a bottle of wine!'

The new darling of Toulon has undoubtedly earned a glass or two.

Dan "Polar Bear" Cole will face Tendai "Beast" Mtawarira

The Polar Bear versus The Beast: Stand by for match of the muscle men



21:30 GMT, 4 June 2012

A few hours before the England squad took the coach ride to Heathrow for their flight to South Africa, Dan Cole was shown the video clip of his next opponent which has become an internet sensation.

The Leicester prop watched a remarkable display of strength by Tendai ‘Beast’ Mtawarira, South Africa’s formidable Zimbabwe-born loosehead, with more interest than most, given that the pair will collide at King’s Park here on Saturday.

As befitting a young but decidedly old-school front-row forward, Cole does not indulge in hyperbole, but there was a trace of awe as he described his Springbok rival’s actions in the colours of the Sharks.

Dan Cole

Tendai Mtawarira

Dan 'Polar Bear' Cole (left) will take on Tendai 'Beast' Mtawarira (right)

‘Mouritz Botha showed me the video,’ said the 25-year-old. ‘It’s a single-man lift from behind and the guy he’s lifting takes the ball but falls back.

'The Beast just keeps hold of him in the air – one of their (Sharks’) second rows, a pretty big lump (Anton Bresler), so it’s an impressive feat of strength.’ Asked if he has ever pulled off such a trick, he added: ‘No, I wish! I think my shoulders would probably dislocate if I tried.’

When Cole tangles with Mtawarira in the first Test, it will be a meeting of near-equals. Both men are in their mid-twenties and the hosts’ No 1 has 32 caps to his English challenger’s 28 – from the national team’s last 29 capped matches.

Yet, the Beast has certain advantages. He will be on home territory in the stadium known as the ‘Shark Tank’ where he is revered as a cult figure. What’s more, his nickname carries a sense of menace, unlike that of the Tigers tighthead.

‘I don’t have a nickname, no…’ said Cole at first, squirming with embarrassment. ‘Well, there is a nickname bandied about…it doesn’t sound as menacing as the Beast anyway. It’s a large Arctic creature. Polar Bear! Fur as white as my skin…’

So there it is: a curious clash of
creatures in an unlikely setting by the Indian Ocean – Beast v Polar
Bear. In reference to his opponent, Cole added: ‘He’s a very good
player, a strong lad and he carries as well.’

Charge: Cole ploughs into his team-mates during training

Charge: Cole ploughs into his team-mates during training

Cole is the first English prop to face the Beast at King’s Park since the latter dismantled Phil Vickery in the Lions series opener there in 2009. While Vickery, – the Raging Bull, to maintain the nickname theme — gained redemption by turning the tables in the third Test, Mtawarira’s dominance in Durban marked him out as a major set-piece force.

Three years on, that brutal scrummaging performance will focus Cole’s mind. ‘I was on a Saxons tour in Denver, so I didn’t see that game live,’ he said. ‘I saw a re-run. You don’t see that (dominance) every day – either in the Premiership or at Test level.

‘I played against him at Twickenham in 2010 and I would say it was about 50-50 between us that day.

‘The thing that stands out for me from that game was not so much the scrums but just the physical nature of the Springbok pack.

‘They had just lost to Scotland so they went back to their Plan A and just battered us, basically.’

South Africa’s new coach Heyneke Meyer spent six months in charge at Leicester in 2008 and in that time he accelerated Cole’s emergence in the Tigers’ first team, as well as encouraging the rise of other rookies such as Ben Youngs.

Watch out: Mtawarira is a powerful customer

Watch out: Mtawarira is a powerful customer

That brief exposure to Meyer’s methods has left Cole in no doubt about what awaits England over the next three weekends. ‘He likes to play a simple but physically dominant game,’ he said. ‘It’s about big runners winning one-on-one collisions and if you win a penalty, you kick your goals. Meyer’s teams want to bludgeon you to death.’

If that doesn’t sound like a particularly enticing prospect for any of Stuart Lancaster’s players, the front row will, as ever, find themselves at the sharp end of the confrontations. Cole believes the tourists can prosper by using the skills and tricks drilled into them at their clubs and by forwards coach, Graham Rowntree.

‘The South African forwards are big, macho men,’ said Cole, who knows this scrum battle will be as arduous as anything England faced during the Six Nations.

‘They are probably not the most technical side but that’s probably because they almost don’t need to be. They have the mentality that they want to use the scrum as a weapon.

Boss: Stuart Lancaster issuing instructions during training

Boss: Stuart Lancaster issuing instructions during training

‘They are huge men who want to dominate the scrum and build their physical supremacy from that. We have to be technically superior.’

Lancaster all but confirmed last night that James Haskell will not take any part in the first Test as he won’t have had enough time with the squad following his arrival from New Zealand, where he has been playing with Otago Highlanders.

Manu Tuilagi was unable to complete training yesterday while Alex Corbisiero and David Strettle missed the session entirely, casting doubt over their fitness for Saturday.

lformer Munster centre Jean de Villiers, 31, was confirmed as South Africa’s captain for the England series on Monday.


Head to head

Tony Pulis backs Peter Crouch for England

Pulis backs Crouch for England spot at Euro 2012 after superb Stoke form



22:00 GMT, 8 April 2012

As a proud Welshman, Tony Pulis admits that he has no particular reason to bang a drum on behalf of England. As a proud manager of Stoke City, Pulis cannot contain himself any longer.

Peter Crouch, unorthodox, ungainly and unflappable, is playing the best football of his career, according the man who works with him every day.

Pulis does not do hyperbole yet does not hesitate to shower his 31-year-old 10million striker in compliments following Crouch’s 13th goal of the season in the 2-1 win over Wolves.

England bid: Peter Crouch is in great form

England bid: Peter Crouch is in great form

The vacuum at the top of the England
heirarchy means that no-one is sure who, if anyone, is keeping an eye on
the candidates for Euro 2012.

So, just in case, how about a
scouting report from Pulis, who might have regarded the recruitment of a
high-profile, London-based player as a bit of a risk last summer when
Tottenham agreed to sell.

‘I tried to dampen it down hoping
that other people would come and have a look themselves and see what
he's doing instead of a manager blowing bubbles,’ admitted Pulis.

‘But he's done that now and the cat
is out of the bag – Crouchy is playing as well as he's ever played so I
can't play it down any further. He's absolutely desperate to play for
England, he'd walk over there.

‘We're talking about a country who I
don't care who they pick or not. I’d love him to have the summer off
but if he gets selected there will be nobody more delighted than me.

‘Forget his age, look at his stats. Every training session he's like a schoolboy. He's raised the bar for us.’

Crouch is already contender for goal
of the season after his wonder strike against Manchester City. His
winner on Saturday was a looping header.

The departure of Fabio Capello from
the England job has opened a door that seemed to be shut and Crouch,
with 22 goals in 42 appearances for his country, is stating an impelling
case having not played since November 2010.