Robbie Hunter-Paul: “When it came to training, I’d train the house down.”

Photo courtesy of: Examiner.co.uk

From the comforts of home in Tokoroa, New Zealand, where walking around the town barefoot was the norm, to the bright lights and fast moving pace of the City of Bradford in the North of England, where Robbie Hunter-Paul and his family were subject to a few gazes of disbelief as they walked around the city centre without wearing so much as sandals on their first day there.

It was safe to say Hunter-Paul had made a big change to his life, and at such a young age. But his move to Bradford Bulls would ignite the start of hugely successful career at the top of the Rugby League game in England, which spanned over the course of 17 years.

The 40-year-old was only 18 when the move to the Bulls came about, and to understand the cultural differences that was about to become a reality for him, he tuned in to Sky Movies to watch the Bradford based film Rita, Sue and Bob too.

“We were one of the first families in our neighbourhood to get Sky as we followed the Rugby League in Australia.

“I knew nothing about the culture in England, and I knew less about a city in the North of England called Bradford. Rita, Sue and Bob too is a British cult classic about a guy who sleeps with babysitters on a council estate in Bradford, and that was my introduction.

“You can imagine as an 18-year-old who was brought up as a mummy’s boy, that after watching that I had a firm grip on my mum’s skirt as I got off the plane when I arrived.”

The former Scrum-half believes British people are among the most tribal in the world, although he claims they don’t even realise to what effect. Hunter-Paul pinpoints his success as Captain of the Bulls at such a young age as being down to managing all of his teammates personalities, no matter where they had come from, no matter what ‘tribe’ they were a part of.

“Depending on what side of the street you grew up on in Britain, you will go ‘Nah I’m not speaking to that lot over there’. The melting pole which is a professional rugby team, you have so many different backgrounds and cultures.

“When it came to training, I’d train the house down. Very few people trained as hard as I did. Off the field I was very focussed, but when it came to being able to communicate on those different levels, I was able to do that. I was also wise enough and smart enough to know that 18 years of age, I didn’t know it all.”

1996 turned out to be a phenomenal year for the Kiwi, when he ended the season as the the Bulls top try scorer, before winning the man of the match award and the Lance Todd Trophy, after scoring three tries in the Challenge Cup final against St Helens.

“When I scored the first try I rolled over and there was a wall of 30,000 Bradford fans, it was just amazing. We were losing at this point so it got us back into the game and within 2 points. It was rock star moment.

“Do you know why rock stars do what they do? Put aside the money, it’s because it feeds that kind of adrenaline and endorphin release. It’s the strongest drug on the planet, and you can never replace that.”

Although throughout his career Hunter-Paul worked hard to never make costly mistakes, he’s reminded daily of one in a Grand Final between Leeds and Bradford where he fumbled the ball around the Bulls own 22 with only minutes to go, a mistake that eventually led to the Rhinos overturning the Bulls lead and winning the final.

“My father taught me one of the best lessons in life. He told me that if I made a mistake it’s not your fault, but if you make it again it damn well is. Because you should have learned from the first time you made that mistake.

“Did I always learn from the first mistakes? Hell no. Show me someone who didn’t. The people who are of the elite understand failure, they understand losing and making a mistake. Most of the time it’s the best lesson learnt. Did I let that mistake beat me up? No, I just had to move on.”

You don’t need to be a world class sportsperson to understand sibling rivalry. You fight, squabble and kiss and make up countless times before you grow up into men, and even then not a lot changes. Robbie played alongside his brother Henry at the Bulls, but they had to face up against each other as rivals too.

“He’s the best player I’ve ever played with or against. The way he was able to transcend his game to international level was exceptional. He’s a very driven man, and I picked up some of my skills from him.

“It was hard having to compete with someone growing up who was two years my senior, and two years physically more developed than I was, but playing with him every day developed me as a player.”

With his career in England blooming, a personal dream of the New Zealanders that stemmed back to being a six-year-old was about to become a reality in 1997, as he was set to represent his country for the first time. Not even his initial self questioning of his worth of wearing such a shirt would hamper one of the proudest days of his life.

“It was such an honour to lead the Haka against England, the other half of my life. That was a truly joyous day, and one of my proudest moments as a rugby player.

“I remember stood in front of my shirt whilst it was on the hook, and suddenly things go through your head like ‘am I even worthy of this jersey?’.

“Then the doggedness and drive that got your there in the first place comes out and says ‘snap out of it you pussy, pull this shirt off the hook and put it on.’ I was lucky to have a long stint as a New Zealand international, but you have to earn it.”

Although he came to England with little knowledge of the culture, he remains resided here, married to an English wife, with English children, and will be seen as legend that will forever have his story written in the Bradford Bulls history books. He may have moved to the country originally for his Rugby career, but he is quite happy to admit he stayed for the people – And thankfully he now has enough shoes to not worry about those looks of disbelief that shoe-less day it all begun.

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Giants handed Grix blow

Super League side Huddersfield Giants have been dealt a blow after finding out that full-back Scott Grix will miss five months of the new season with a shoulder injury.

Paul Anderson, head coach of the Giants, announced the bad news today – whilst Grix was in fact one of three players to suffer an injury during Friday’s loss to St Helens.

The shoulder injury appears to be similar to one that resulted in a limited amount of appearances for the 31-year-old during the 2014 season, but Grix had been a prominent figure last year making 24 apps.

“Everything you can imagine that’s gone wrong with his shoulder has done.

“He has had previous history with surgery on that shoulder and it will be a longer rehabilitation programme. We’re looking at five months.” Anderson told the BBC.

As previously mentioned, there were two other injuries on the night and those were announced as club captain Danny Brough, who had to be substituted after sustaining a dead leg – and Eorl Crabtree, who may be missing for a few weeks with a groin injury.

“It’s the first time in my history I’ve seen Danny in genuine pain.

“He’s a tough human being and he hates rehab, so he’s giving them a tough time.” Anderson continued.

The Giants will be looking to bounce back from the loss on the opening day of the rugby season when they face Wigan Warriors on Friday at 8pm in the John Smith’s stadium.

Three days ago the club announced that they had taken ex-St Helens winger Jamie Foster on trial, but it has now been confirmed by Anderson that he is on course to start Friday’s televised tie with Wigan.

“Jamie will play. He’s saying the right things but obviously he’s been inactive for a while. There is always a risk with that but we have no choice at the moment.

“What you are going to see over the next couple of weeks is the future of the Giants. We’re not likely to get anybody back soon. The young fellas will be loving it because they’re going to get an opportunity to play at home, on Sky, against Wigan, and challenge themselves.”

Mitchell Pearce stood down by Roosters

The Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney Roosters captain Mitchell Pearce has been stood down by his club following the release of a video where he appears to imitate a sex act on a dog.

Pearce’s advances were rejected by a female in the video, before he then picked up the dog whilst sat on the sofa. He was also accused of urinating on himself and the furniture in the flat, by the same woman.

Earlier on during the same day Pearce had posted a photo to his Instagram of he and his teammates embarking on a Sydney Harbour Cruise, following the conclusion of their morning training session. This all happened on Australia Day.

Love these blokes ✌🏻️

A post shared by Mitchell Pearce (@mitchpearce_7) on

A spokesman for the NRL said “will work with the Roosters to ensure the matter is dealt with appropriately”.

The Sydney Roosters also released a statement, claiming they were to work closely with the the NRL integrity unit.

“The Sydney Roosters are aware of an incident involving Mitchell Pearce.

“The Club has advised the NRL’s Integrity Unit. The Club will conduct an internal investigation and will be making no further comment at this time.”

Expect this story to unravel even more in the coming days.

Super League Semi Final: Leeds Rhinos vs St Helens

Photo courtesy of BBC sport

Leeds Rhinos defeated St Helens in a tight affair on Friday night to book their place in the Super League Grand final, taking a 20-13 victory at Headingley Carnigie stadium.

The win gives the Rhinos a chance of completing the treble in the Grand final next week, after having already secured this seasons Challenge Cup final and Super League Leaders’ Shield.

Leeds didn’t win the easy way, and went into the half time interval with St Helens leading 9-8. James Roby opened the scoring before the Rhinos’ Zak Hardaker hit back with a try of his own – but St Helens went into the break with their lead courtesy of a drop goal from Luke Walsh.

The Rhinos then found themselves five points behind when Mark Percival scored a try, which seemed to ignite the fight in the hearts of the Leeds players.

Ryan Hall’s try took the Rhinos into the lead, before Kallum Watkins scored a late try to put the match out of sight, breaking the hearts of the St Helens’ players and fans at the same time.

St Helens coach Keiron Cummingham told the press after the loss he was proud of every single one of his players.

“I really feel for my boys, for large points we were the better team. People really hung in there and we fought for each other. I’m proud of every one of those players.”

Whilst winning Leeds prop Jamie Peacock praised the battling spirit of his successful teammates.

“What a group to play with. We never know when we’re beaten or when to quit. It’s a pleasure to play with such a tough bunch of blokes.

“Saints are a great side, tenacious and tough, and they should take a lot of heart from that.

“It’s the big one next week and anything can happen.”

Leeds will now face Wigan Warriors in the Grand Final on October 10th at Old Trafford, after the Warriors defeated the Huddersfield Giants 32-8, ensuring they reached their third successive final.

Rugby World Cup 2015: Wales vs Fiji first half as it happened

The Millennium stadium was at full capacity as the Welsh side took on the Fijian’s in both nations third matches of this years World Cup.

It was a frantic start to the match, as Wales looked to gain the early advantage. And the Welsh faithful wouldn’t have to wait long to get their first try, as on six minutes scrum-half Gareth Davies smashed through the Fiji backline to open the scoring. Giving great credit to Wales, it had been coming. Dan Biggar converted too, to take Wales into a 7-0 lead.

You could have been forgiven for thinking the game could have swung massively in Wales’ favour now they’d got their first try, but in fact what happened was the Fijians rallied – and were rewarded with their first points of the game on 13 minutes as Ben Volavola kicked home a superb penalty to reduce the deficit to 7-3.

Volavola was then awarded another chance four minutes later, but this time he cannoned the ball well wide of the posts.

That missed penalty kick would have reduced Wales’ advantage even further, but instead the Welsh would get a penalty of their own a couple of minutes later – and Davies couldn’t miss, meaning Wales went back into a seven point lead at 10-3.

Wales should have had their second try of the game on 23 minutes as they broke following a turnover deep in the Wales half. The Welsh had men over and should have scored had it not been for a wonderful last ditch tackle just before the try line. Fiji were then awarded a penalty, and had escaped.

Wales were then awarded their second try as Scott Baldwin picked up on the line and tapped down, before Biggar nailed the conversion taking Wales to 17-3 with six minutes to go before half time.

As half time approached Fiji were awarded a penalty for the scrum collapsing, and this time Volavola made no mistake scoring three important points just before the break, and leaving things at 17-6 at half time.

Sadly the University had organised a student lock-in for tonight so the writer of this article had to head to that to buy some new clothes with some glorious discount.

Rugby World Cup 2015: England vs Fiji as it happened

England won their opening match of the Rugby World Cup 2015 after a convincing 35-11 victory over Fiji at Twickenham, with Mike Brown the hero of the night following his two tries.

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After the wonderful opening ceremony, including a speech from Prince Harry – the real stuff begun, as Fiji started the match, and more importantly, the Rugby World Cup 2015.

England didn’t allow the visitors to settle into the game before they got their first points of the tournament, courtesy of a penalty conversion by conversion by George Ford, who couldn’t have struck the ball much more perfectly – giving the tournament hosts a 3-0 lead.

Fiji were then handed the chance to level the scores with a penalty of their own just a few minutes later, but Ben Volavola was incredibly unlucky as he hit the post.

With 11 minutes gone England increased their score with a penalty try, on the back of powerful rolling maul. The hosts had been awarded a penalty a few moments prior after a dangerous tip-tackle on Jonny May. Ford then went on to slot the conversion away, giving England a 10-0 lead.

Fiji were guilty of some poor tackles and England were getting plenty of promising penalties, and with 22 gone the second try of the game came. The English players worked the ball out with quick precision to the left and it was Mike Brown who powered home upping the score to 15-0, with Ford not taking the conversion opportunity this time – so 15-0 it remained.

Mild controversy was to follow five minutes later, when Fiji were awarded a try before then having it chalked off. Nikola Matawalu raced down the right and was simply unstoppable, or was he? Jonny May and Mike Brown were the two chasing down Matawalu and just as he looked to have scored the try the Fijian knocked on, on the line.

But Fiji would in fact score a try just moments after, as England conceded the scrum before Nemani Nadolo caught a wonderful cross field kick in the goal area, reducing the deficit to 15-5 – but they too would miss the conversion, as Volavola failed in his attempts.

Half time was edging closer after a thoroughly entertaining opening 40, but there was time for both England and Fiji to score three more points each, both from penalties – taking the scores to 18-8 with four minutes left to play.

Despite late pressure from Fiji, and a failed penalty attempt from England, both sides went into the half time break at 18-8 in what was an excellent display from both nations.

Fiji missed a good opportunity to reduce the deficit further seven minutes into the second period, but Nadolo missed on this occasion.

After a middle of the park battle for 15 minutes, Nadolo had another chance from a penalty – but once again he squandered the chance to bring Fiji within a try score of catching England.

That wake up call wasn’t loud enough for England, who gave Fiji another penalty opportunity. Volavola didn’t make the mistake his colleague had only moments earlier, and brought Fiji back in the game at 18-11.

The visitors were back within seven points of levelling the scores for a matter of minutes before England converted a penalty through Owen Farrell, extending the lead once more to ten at 21-11.

With only 8 minutes remaining England looked to have put the game out of Fiji’s sight as Mike Brown was the hero once more, scoring the try – and Farrell scored from the conversion, making it 28-11.

England went in search of the bonus point they would be awarded for winning with four tries scored, and it looked like they may have left it too late with the 80 minutes up, that is until Billy Vunipola powered through the Fijian back-line to score the all important try. With the bonus point already in the bag, Farrell converted to leave the score at 35-11 at full time in what was a commanding display by the hosts.

The beginning

Hello there, and welcome to my new Sports news orientated site. My aim is to provide readers with as up-to-date coverage as we possibly can, whilst trying to balance this between a University degree and part-time job.

The creator and owner of Sportingwayoflife.com is a 22-year-old aspiring sports journalist who currently studies at the University of Huddersfield. Big Scunthorpe United fan, and currently help the club out in their media department on match days – which is a fantastic experience.

I also run two other sites http://www.anyoldironblog.com/ & http://gunghofootball.com/ – which have both received great support from readers.

The aim of the Sportingwayoflife is to provide news updates from a variety of sports. For the start it will Football, Golf, Horse Racing, Tennis and Rugby – but expect more categories to emerge in the near future.

I guess all that is left to say is thank you for visiting the site, please share it with your family and friends – and see you around hopefully.

Ross Gibson.