One of the great things about this wonderful game of ours in that you make a hell of a lot of friends from all over the world.
Bath’s crucial Heineken Cup game with champions Leinster sees me come up against two guys I got close to during our time at Leicester Tigers.
Lock Leo Cullen and flanker Shane Jennings came over from Ireland as pretty much two virtual unknowns and left to go back to Leinster a few years later as top-class players.
They have both gone on to achieve international honours since they left Welford Road and were both in the Irish squad at the World Cup.
It will be good to see them on the pitch. In the heat of the battle, you rarely get a chance to even recognise who you are running into.
You usually meet each other at the bottom of a ruck. Jenno mioght laugh and say: “How are you doing Vesty?” whereas Leo would be more likely to ruffle your hair…whilst laying on top of you.
Jenno was our go-to guy at Leicester and left the club a much better player than when he came. Whereas Leo captained the club and had those leadership qualities that certain players are born with.
He was a really impressive guy and led by example. He was a naturally quiet skipper but had similar leadership traits to that of my former skipper at Tigers, Martin Johnson.
Niether of them said very much but when they did, you listened. It gave what they said even more gravitas.
If you are a loud captain who is always shouting, I think 90 per cent of what you say gets lost in a filter between your ears. When leaders like Leo and Johnno speak, it’s usually pretty profound.
Leo was also a real bandit at cards too. Hopefully Bath will be playing all the Aces when we meet him (groan).
Read more from Sam Vesty on LivingRugby.
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