Gloucester’s giant signing Matt Banahan gives an insight into what he’s like off the field

Downtime with Gloucester wing Matt Banahan

How have you settled in at Gloucester?

I’m really enjoying it. I’d only known one way having been at one club (Bath) for so long, so the change has been quite nice. Everything is new to me and it’s been good fun.

Who are the jokers in the squad? 

I find Ollie Thorley funny because he’s so posh. I talk to him like I’m someone from Robin Hood – where art thou?

And Fraser Balmain is an interesting character. He’s got a very dry sense of humour and keeps a deadpan face.

What about practical jokes?

The other day I hid in the toilet and jumped out at Ben Vellacott. Everything is scary for him because people are so much bigger than him! I’ll try to do a few more of those – if it doesn’t bring a smile to their face it will to mine!

I love hiding somewhere for a long time and then jumping out at people – it’s simple but effective. I always set up a mobile phone somewhere to try to get the reaction.

Do you have any phobias?

Not really. I’m not a massive fan of small spaces but that’s just from being big. And I don’t like people holding my head under water – I have a big brother!

What’s your nickname?

Just Banas. I’ve seen some people spell it Banners but I’m not a sign on a wall.

What really annoys you?

I hate it when people are late. If they say they’ll be there at 1pm, I expect them to be there at 1pm or just before. I’m likely to have something planned after that and if they’re late it’s ruined my day.

Do you have any superstitions?

No. Before a game I’m just thinking how lucky I am to be a rugby player, how I’m a kid from Jersey who got the opportunity to do this. So I go onto the pitch with a smile on my face.

Who would be your three dream dinner party guests?

My dad when he was younger so I could see what he was like in his prime. Tiger Woods – he was so far ahead in his sport, the best, and I’d like to know how he goes about things.

Tiger Woods

On the green: Tiger Woods assesses a putt during the Ryder Cup (Getty Images)

Then my grandad, again when he was younger. He passed away last November but would tell us his war stories about flying Lancaster Bombers and going on missions.

We only hear stuff like that about our parents and grandparents; it would be great to see them in their prime.

What’s your most embarrassing moment?

Many moons ago I was diving over the line against Leicester, in the LV= Cup I think, and I dropped the ball. I try not to do big dives now and put the ball down as soon as I can. That scarred me.

Who’d you like to be stuck in a lift with?

My children (Joey, Lola and Izzy) – they are funny. My son is a carbon copy of me, my middle daughter is comedy gold and my youngest daughter is a mixture of both. They’re seven, five and two.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

To fly. Playing I could pick up the ball and fly, going on holiday you wouldn’t have to pay extortionate airline prices, you wouldn’t have to pay for petrol.

If you could be one of your team-mates, who would it be?

I’m trying to think of a funny reason why I’d choose someone. If I’m being honest it would be Cips (Danny Cipriani) because he’s one of the most talented and skilful people around.

Gloucester wing Matt Banahan

Double act: Matt Banahan with new team-mate Danny Cipriani (Getty Images)

What’s the silliest thing you’ve bought?

I had three petrol remote-control cars. As I was putting the first one together it broke; the same happened with the next two and they were very expensive.

Best piece of advice you’ve received?

My dad always used to say: “If you do the basics better than your opposite number, the star quality comes out.” So I always try to do the basics well. I’m not the fastest and don’t have the footwork of some other backs, but I aim to do my catch, pass and tackle better.

What’s your guilty pleasure? 

Fizzy drinks and chocolate. I’ve got a massive sweet tooth.

What would you like to do post-rugby?

I love coaching kids at any level. For me helping them is gratifying, rather than the stress of Premiership coaching, which can be so ruthless. Helping the next generation is more for me.

Do you have any hidden talents?

Definitely a no. I play a lot of golf and have a handicap of six, but I just play for enjoyment. I have a couple of mates on the European tour and a few local pros, scratch golfers, so play with them. That’s a good challenge and is good fun.

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 edition of Rugby World.

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