skip to main content skip to accessibility policy

4 January 2012, 10:36am

Profile - Matt Banahan

Position: Wing/Centre

Honours: England

Date of birth: 30th Dec 1986

Birthplace: St Helier, Jersey

Height: 2.01m (6' 7")

Weight: 115kg (18st 2lb)

Jersey-born Matt Banahan kicked off his career with Bath Rugby with a bang, scoring 16 tries in his debut season after switching from the pack to the wing.

Formerly a flanker and second row cover in the London Irish Academy, Matt's pace and power meant a switch to the backs, where he first started playing, was the logical step, and have seen him develop into a devastating threat out wide, and more recently in the centres.

His development has not gone unnoticed by the national set-up either, and at 22 years old he was capped twice, scoring a try on his debut at Old Trafford as England beat Argentina. He has been involved with the England team since, including being a member of the squad selected for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

We thought it was time we caught up with the 6ft 7in back to find out just how busy his year has been...

It's been quite a year for you - getting married and the birth of your son off the field, and representing England at the World Cup, as well as playing for Bath on it – have things settled down any yet?

"Not really! It's still pretty manic. We moved house a week before I left for New Zealand with England, so Becky (my wife) had to cope with being alone in a new house, with a new baby and two dogs, so it was all a bit stressful! We're still trying to find our feet a bit, and figure out a time we can get away for our over-due honeymoon!"

You were very eager to get back into the way of club life when you returned from the World Cup – was this you wanting to return to normality in a way?

"Partly, and partly because Bath were going well, I wanted to get back involved with the team. I didn't want to take any more time off than absolutely necessary so I could get back into the team and start challenging for a place.

"I was involved with every game of the World Cup, although perhaps didn't get the amount of game time I would have liked. When I came back, physically I was in great shape, although mentally I maybe could've done with more of a break than I gave myself – it was quite exhausting being involved with a tournament like the World Cup, especially with all the other goings on.

"Hopefully I did enough whilst we were there to be selected in the new England squad, and whilst Bath haven't been getting the right results, all I can do is play my best, keep performing and hope to be involved again."

You're still relatively young (Matt was 25 on Friday), but seem to have been a regular name in rugby for a good few years now. What made you start playing in the first place?

"We played at school, but I concentrated on hockey more to begin with. But then I decided that whatever I was playing, I wanted to play with my friends, and they were all involved in rugby, so I made the switch. I've been at Bath about six years now, and it's the same here – I'm playing with a group of mates, which is how I started, and how I'd like my career to continue!"

Position wise, you've moved around a fair bit since you started playing haven't you?

"Yeh – I originally started playing at fullback for school, then moved to a 6 or 8 with my club (although I usually just stayed there for the scrums and lineouts then went out onto the wing!). I signed with the London Irish Academy, and they played me at 6, although everyone thinks I was a second row, and then when I made the move to Bath I was signed as a winger, and now have been playing centre too.

"I think I probably enjoy playing centre the most – I love the amount you're involved in the game in that position."

Moving away from the pitch, your son was born last May – how have you adapted to fatherhood?

"Fatherhood is ace! He's a big baby, which you would kind of expect, but he's very happy so we've been really blessed in that sense. He doesn't sleep much mind, but he's happy when he's awake! Luckily, I manage to sleep through it when he cries at night, so Becky tends to do the nights and I do the daytimes."

You also have two very contrasting ways of unwinding don't you - Motorcross and Golf?

"I used to love watching Motorcross on Eurosport when I was younger, and when I moved to Bath and met my now wife, I met a lot of professional riders through her brother. They invited me along to some races and gradually I built up a friendship group – it's great to have something so far removed from rugby to help me unwind. I find golf quite easy, due to my years of playing hockey. I find them both relatively relaxing, but obviously in very different ways, and which I do on a day off depends very much on how my body is feeling! Having said that, they're both quite time consuming, so I don't get to do much of either with the new baby!"

Quickfire Q&A with Matt:

What's your New Year's Resolution? Start cooking for the family

What is your matchday breakfast? Bacon sarnies

Who would play you in a film of your life? I'd like Mark Wahlberg, but it would have to be someone tall so probably Stephen Merchant!

What did you get for Christmas? Bits and bobs – my family say it's hard to buy for someone that has everything they want!

Which is your favourite tattoo, and what's the story behind it? I don't really have a favourite – they all merge into one and all have a story behind them.

Which player did you most admire when you were younger? Matt Perry – I started off playing fullback at school.

If you were stranded on a desert island, which team mate would you take with you and why? I'd take Mearsy I think – he's a good cook, and as he's small wouldn't need much food, clothing or space himself, so there would be more for me!

If you won the lottery, what would be the first thing you bought? I'd pay off the mortgage!

Who would captain your rugby dream team? I think it would be Flow (Francois Louw)

Which song do you know all the words to? None – I mix up verses and choruses and generally get in a muddle!

If you could have one super power, what would it be? I'd have the power to pick a different super power every day of the year!

If you knew the world was about to end, what would you do? Probably take my bike out and just drive really really fast.

Which would you prefer to win, the Premiership or the Heineken Cup? I think the Heineken Cup – you come up against the very best in Europe in that, so it would mean that you are the best in Europe.

Who has been the toughest defender you have come up against? Courtney Lawes is an incredible young talent in the Aviva Premiership, the whole of the Argentina team tackle with their hearts on their sleeves so are very hard to beat, and probably the smartest would be Richie McCaw.

Continue the discussion