Rugby World caught up the ‘Junkyard dog’ when England came calling the second time around, to talk about his addiction to World of Warcraft, becoming a better golfer and being allergic to household chores.
RUGBY WORLD: You must be pleased to be back in the senior England squad?
MIKE TINDALL: Massively. I hadn’t given up and still had ambitions of playing for England. I knew it would be hard but as long as I was playing well for Gloucester I had a chance. I had a meeting with Johnno [Martin Johnson] to chat about it and I’m very pleased.
RW: So, can England turn things around in the Six Nations?
MT: That’s what we’ve got to get up for. We’ve got to make sure that we all know how we’re going to play, that we’re all singing off the same hymn sheet.
RW: Will you get a chance to relax and enjoy yourselves too?
MT: You’ve got to have a bit of fun – you play rugby because you enjoy it. You play better when you have fun. There’s that side of it, but you have the bloody-mindedness and ruthlessness you need on the international field, too.
RW: Who are Gloucester’s jokers?
MT: Andy Hazell and Iain Balshaw are the two best ones. Andy’s been injured, though, so he’s been concentrating on getting fit again. He’s the only one who’ll go to extra lengths to play pranks – it’s because he’s got no life outside rugby! – so we can sleep easy at the moment.
RW: Can you remember any good practical jokes he’s played?
MT: He phoned Olly Morgan pretending to be a reporter and got him to say that he thought he should be in the England team, that he was better than Balshaw etc, and then he put it on a podcast so we could all have a good laugh at Olly.
RW: There is a good mix of nationalities at the club. Any funny stories with the language barrier?
MT: The French and Italian players always suddenly lose their ability to understand and speak English if they make a mistake in training.
Superstitions, Future ambitions and not being able to live without a laptop…
RW: What are your nicknames?
MT: Junkyard Dog, because when I was at Bath I had long hair, which I didn’t often brush. I used to arrive at training looking dishevelled and one day Brian Smith, one of the coaches then, said I looked like a junkyard dog, and it’s stuck.
RW: What is the funniest thing you have seen or heard on the pitch?
MT: Playing for Bath against Leicester in my first season, Neil Back got sin-binned, and as he headed off I sent him on his way with a comment or two. Martin Johnson turned to me and said: “Oi, nobody, shut the hell up.”
RW: What can’t you live without?
MT: My laptop. It keeps me sane when we go away. I play a game on it called World of Warcraft and a few lads here play it, too. It’s a platform game and ten million people play on-line. It’s very weird, like a separate world. My missus [Zara Phillips] says I’m addicted to it.
RW: Who does the household chores?
MT: Zara does the cooking, we have a cleaner, and I offer moral support.
RW: Do you have any superstitions?
MT: Leave the changing room last.
RW: What would you like to achieve outside of rugby?
MT: To be a single-figure handicap golfer.
RW: What’s your favourite joke?
MT: What do you call an igloo without a toilet? Ig.
RW: Aside from a house/car, what is the priciest thing you have bought?
MT: A hot tub, which I’ve replaced with a gazebo, both about the same price.
RW: Who would you most like to be stuck in a lift with?
MT: For good banter, Samuel L Jackson. For visual pleasure, Jennifer Aniston.
RW: If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Challenge Mike to a stare out…
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