I FLEW to Australia on the same plane as Simon Shaw who, just four years ago, was the best player in a red jersey during the 2009 tour to South Africa.
The giant English lock was in the back of the bus so if you feel squashed in cattle class imagine how miserable he was.
Standing beside me in the customs queue, Shaw was asked if he had any food in his bag or mud, perhaps on some boots?
“I’ve got boots but they’re clean,” he replied. “You brought your boots?” I asked. “Of course I brought my boots!” he said with a broad, hopeful, grin.
THE Manic Street Preachers played a gig in Melbourne on Friday night and they introduced the crowd to the band’s new guitarist. “Doctor Jamie F**king Roberts!” The big centre can always take to the stage if he struggles at his first two careers of rugby and medicine.
WITH the exchange rate heavily weighted against Sterling, the journalists love nothing more than swapping stories about the outrageous cost of pretty much everything.
A pint of beer costs £7 and if you edge upmarket you can easily pay the same for a schooner in a posh establishment.
One Krispy Kreme donut will set you back £2, but my favourite story came from a journalist who is staying in the extremely expensive team hotel.
He paid £5.50 for a pair of socks...and if that sounds fair value, that was just to have them laundered.
ON that note, a gang of thirsty scribblers met in a bar to watch the State of Origin rugby league match between Queensland and New South Wales last Wednesday. Their eyes lit up when they heard that the beer was half price until the first try was scored.
Settling in for a long session they had barely taken the froth off their first pint when Queensland scored after just three minutes and it was back to £7 pints.
SITTING next to Lewis Moody in the team announcement last week, he mused out loud that the last time he’d been in a press conference he’d been at the top table as England captain during the fateful World Cup of 2011.
At least Moody was able to confirm a story from the 2005 Lions tour of New Zealand. With the wheels coming off and Gareth “Alfie” Thomas taking the captaincy after Brian O’Driscoll’s injury, the Welsh winger gathered his players in a tight circle after a particularly appalling training session. “Right lads,” says Alfie, “listen up! I only have two words to say to everyone. Don’t f**king panic.”
Cue hysterics from everyone.