Sunday Times

Tight­heads & Loose Balls

- Port Elizabeth · Australia national rugby union team · Austria · Belgium · Frans Malherbe · New Zealand national rugby union team · Wellington, New Zealand · Jack Dorsey · Iceland · Manchester City Football Club · Joel Stransky

● Joel Stran­sky must have been thank­ful he has spent all that time on his bike. The svelte for­mer Spring­bok fly­half en­coun­tered a bit of a night­mare when he had to travel to Port El­iz­a­beth for the Test against the Wal­la­bies last week. He had been as­signed to a mid­dle seat but el­bow room was at a pre­mium. He had to wedge him­self be­tween two rather broad-shoul­dered gen­tle­men, one of whom re­marked: “Now you know what it’s like to be part of the for­wards.”

● Bok prop Frans Mal­herbe was asked this week about the gap that opened up for him against the All Blacks in Welling­ton. “I got a big­ger fright than you guys,” said Mal­herbe. “It hap­pens now and then with props. It’s not about the in­di­vid­ual. I think we scored,” he said mod­estly.

● We know All Blacks coach Steve Hansen can be a bit of a sto­ry­teller at pressers, but his yarn — ex­plain­ing that his team draws lit­tle com­fort from play­ing at Lof­tus, where they have a good record — takes the cake.

“It’s a dif­fer­ent group of peo­ple. It’s a dif­fer­ent oc­ca­sion,” said Hansen.

“I don’t know if you do any bak­ing but it’s like bak­ing a cake. I oc­ca­sion­ally do. If you get the same in­gre­di­ents you nearly end up with the same cake. Some of them ... no-one wants to eat. We want one we can eat.” ● The All Blacks mid­field part­ner­ship of Sonny Bill Wil­liams and Jack Good­hue quickly re­vealed their bur­geon­ing bro­mance last week. The pair fronted the me­dia and they couldn’t take their eyes off each other. “Sonny has taken me un­der his wing,” cooed Good­hue. “I ap­pre­ci­ate all the help. Hope­fully we can con­tinue this re­la­tion­ship.”

At that mo­ment Wil­liams in­ter­jected: “Uh, tell them about the book you just fin­ished, the one with the best pick-up lines.”

“The one that you gave me,” Good­hue re­torted.

● All Blacks prop Karl Tu’inukuafe suf­fered the same fate as some jour­nal­ists when he tried to ne­go­ti­ate the ex­panse that is the Sand­ton City precinct. He had just fin­ished an in­ter­view in the con­ven­tion cen­tre when he lost his bear­ings on his way back to the team ho­tel.

One jour­nal­ist who took half an hour to find park­ing in the con­crete bow­els of the mall, took an­other 20 min­utes to lo­cate his car an hour later.

● Ob­vi­ously Tu’inukuafe is less fa­mil­iar with Sand­ton than his well-trav­elled team­mates. His rise this year has been noth­ing short of me­te­oric. He made his Su­per Rugby de­but and within three months he rep­re­sented the All Blacks.

Tu’inukuafe, who was a part-time bouncer, took up rugby again in 2014 af­ter his doc­tor told him he was a heart at­tack wait­ing to hap­pen. He’s had to cut out the burg­ers but now he’s hav­ing tight­heads for break­fast in­stead.

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