Pressure, playing with Johnny Sexton and speaking ‘ Wiganese’ all come up in conversation with Lions analyst Vinny Hammond
VINNY HAMMOND hands over his phone to show how much sleep he registered during the first week of the Lions tour. There’s one entry of more than seven hours but the rest are in the twos and threes. The figures illustrate just how hectic it is to be part of the analysis team on a tour such as this. Not only do they have two games a week to prepare for and review, collating clips and information for coaches and players, but there is also a larger squad involved than if you were working with a national side and they have to travel after nearly every match.
The figures in Hammond’s sleep diary have improved as the tour has gone on and despite its frenetic nature, he is loving it. “You don’t feel tired,” says the first-time Lions tourist. “You get really energised by the players and the new experiences.”
The Irishman is part of a three-strong analysis team headed up by Rhodri Bown of the WRU and also including England’s Michael Hughes, both of whom have been involved in previous tours. The trio have bonded well and have their own “analysts’ wagon”, with Hammond behind the wheel, Hughes in charge of the music and Bown setting up his “office” in the back seat. No one else is allowed in the car, which has blacked-out windows and is fitted out with monitors and USB ports in the back so that they can work while on the move. Unfortunately for Hammond, he has generally been the designated driver so still has to do his analysis when they reach whatever destination they are heading to, but for the others it is time-saving to have the facilities in the car to pull together information for the coaches.
“I deal predominantly with Andy Farrell on defence, Mike works on the forwards and Rhodri works on the attack,” Hammond explains of their roles. “The coaches are quite good – they don’t put too much emphasis on anything that’s not needed, so there’s little fluff – but they all want something different! We pick out the bits they want from us and give them everything they need, a full platter, but without wasting time. You have to work smart.
Pulling together AUGUST 2017 National rivals Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje graft to perfect the Lions’ maul
Instant replay Hammond with Steve Borthwick and (right) a Tommy Seymour steal v Highlanders