The Welsh back row took some time out of her busy training schedule to discuss how she got into the game, pratical jokes, and hopefully ending up relaxing on a beach somewhere.
RUGBY WORLD: How did you get into rugby?
GEMMA HALLETT: I started playing properly at the University of Central Lancashire. I also played for local side Preston Grasshoppers and Wales Students. From uni I travelled to Sydney and led Eastern Suburbs, and when I came home I decided to concentrate on making the Wales side. It took a complete shift in attitude and commitment.
RW: What are your aims for this year’s Six Nations and World Cup?
GH: I have the ambition to win every game – pulling on the shirt everyone should be of that mindset. If we collectively thought like that, I’ve no doubt we could win the Six Nations and the World Cup – after all, it’s just winning a series of individual games.
RW: Any jokers in the Wales squad?
GH: Everyone’s a joker. From players to management, we don’t miss an opportunity for a giggle. Treacle (Jenny Davies) is always up to something – we can be quite naughty together.
RW: Any practical jokes you can share?
GH: I was annihilated in the last Six Nations. Going to Italy, coach Jason Lewis had me a corker at the check-in… clipping a strappy queue divider to my rucksack. It wouldn’t have been so bad if I hadn’t seen him start to do it and made a big scene about how I’d “caught him out and he’d have to get up early to catch me”. Unbeknown to me he did actually attach it and I dragged the rails along, much to everyone’s amusement. Another time, flankers Kifty (Jamie Kift) and Cat (Catrina Nicholas) conspired to steal one of my trainers on a flight from France. I staged a sit-in on the runway and when I eventually got off, limping, my lonesome trainer was making its way round the carousel.
RW: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen on the pitch?
GH: In a uni game, we had a lineout five metres out and the ball ended up in prop TQ’s (Elaine Edwards) hands. Someone cried “kick it!” and with sheer panic on her face she hoofed it 30 metres… vertically! I can’t recall if they scored or we regathered as we were p***ing ourselves.
Weddings and funerals, dessert trays and Kings of Leon…
RW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why?
GH: It’d have to be the ability to fly. I could go anywhere in the world… oh the possibilities – South Pacific here I come.
RW: What couldn’t you live without?
GH: Air, I think it would be suffocating.
RW: What’s your favourite joke?
GH: It’s not really a joke but when my old aunt and I go to a wedding, she always annoys me by saying, ‘You’re next’. So to stop her doing this I started saying the same thing to her at funerals.
RW: If your house was on fire, what three things would you save?
GH: Myself and my two housemates, but I’d do it very dramatically… commando roll from the upstairs window, devise a lowering device, save them and be forever known as the ‘hero’.
RW: What are your bugbears?
GH: Negative people bug me. I just switch off.
RW: Any phobias?
GH: I can’t risk Treacle finding out – what I say would end up in my room when we’re away.
RW: Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?
GH: A lift engineer and room-service dessert tray.
RW: Who would you invite to a dinner party?
GH: A comedian – Rod Gilbert is my fave at the moment. I’d invite Caleb Followill (Kings of Leon) because I do a pretty impressive ‘Woohoo, your Sex is on Fire!’ and I’d have to invite Gareth Thomas for my nan – she’s supported him for years. I’ll have family and friends too.
RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?
GH: To see the world – but as I can’t actually fly this might take some time – live on a beach and write a book whilst swaying in my hammock.
RW: How do you want to be remembered?
GH: It’s not really up to me… as long as it’s not Gemma Who?
Check out Gemma’s team mate Non Evans…Like Rugby World? Subscribe to the magazine for the latest comprehensive content.