As Welsh winger, Leigh Halfpenny (pictured with me supporting Marie Curie Cancer Care has missed out on playing the autumn Rugby Internationals due to ankle ligament damage I wondered if he had been spending his free time in the garden. Completely bemused he shakes his head.
“My Granddad and Dad are good gardeners but I’m still too young to be gardening yet. Dad is always potching about outdoors and is obsessive about keeping the water clear in his pond but I don’t have a clue. I have a new house now so he’ll be there next summer cutting the grass and planting flowers and I hope I’ll learn something from him then. When I’m older I’ll probably be in the garden more but only when the sun shines so I can get some rays. I don’t mind getting wet on the rugby pitch as it’s my work but not in a garden.”
“I don’t like being indoors when the suns out, I socialise a lot with the rugby boys, we play a lot on the Play stations which is a good laugh, or go fishing at Rhossili with my mates and I like spending time with my family and my partner Alecs. We walk on the beach if it’s nice, people forget how lovely the Gower is, especially Oxwich and Langland.
And although Leigh remembers picking peas in the pod from his Granddads garden, growing his own food isn’t on his agenda yet. “Maybe at the end of my rugby days I’ll do it, when I’ve got more time. I always use organic food as much as I can; it’s important for sports people to have good quality food. I eat healthily and often blend up fruit and veg into smoothies as it’s a good way to get the nutrients I need. I’m still training at the gym although I can’t run at the moment because of my ankle. Normally I like training outdoors for speed and fitness and don’t mind the rain then. It can be quite refreshing during a game though I don’t like being cold now,” he grins.
“When I was growing up Granddad would meet me at the school gates and take me to Gorseinon Rugby Club to practise kicking. I spent my life there, kicking in all weather. When I get to kick in a game now I just remember back then when it was just me kicking on an empty pitch; I forget the crowd and just go back there in my head. My Granddad has been a big influence in getting me into rugby and where I am today. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with him and when I got my first cap against South Africa in the autumn two years ago, he came up to me after the game with a tear in his eye and said, ‘I can die a happy man now.’ He loves his rugby and I think he’s lived his dream through me; I know he’s really proud of me. And I’m proud of him too.”
You can learn more about Leigh here.