We caught Leroy Houston for a quick chat this week ahead of tonight's match against London Irish.
Firstly, how was your experience of Dublin for the Champions Cup quarter-final?
It was one of the biggest rugby occasions I've been involved in. The stadium and the crowd there was phenomenal. I heard it rains a bit in Ireland, but that day was awesome! It was the perfect conditions to play rugby too. When all those things come together it's just outstanding. I soaked it all up and just tried to play to the best of my ability for the fans.
You always get a great response from the supporters. How were they after that match?
As I walked away from the field, they were saying 'good on ya, mate'. They're always supportive. I had goosebumps when I walked towards them because they were cheering as if we'd won, that's how much love they've got for us. So when I got there I said 'sorry, we couldn't bring it home for you', they just said 'you gave it your all, that's all we wanted'. It was hard not to smile when you've got support like that.
Did you get that match out of your system fairly quickly?
It was devastating for a few days, but what's good for with the team as a whole is that we quickly learn and get on with the next task. So after Monday it was forgotten and we got on with preparing for Newcastle. It was a big thing for us going to Kingston Park to play them because they're giant killers, those boys. I love that new pitch in Newcastle: it was such a contrast to playing there in our first match of the season last year. It was horrendous back then - raining sideways and everything. This time around the pitch was dry, the night was warm. I loved it up there.
You're coming to the end of your second season with the Club. How have you enjoyed it?
I'm very thankful to Bath for bringing me over from France because I landed in the perfect spot. I'd heard of Bath before coming here but I didn't understand the foundation of the Club, the type of rugby they played. When I got here, I realised I'd landed on my feet big time! I was really, really happy. The way we play rugby is how the game should be played, and it's now making headway. We're not trying to kick, kick, kick. Constant kicking is how I grew up perceiving Northern Hemisphere teams to play, but that comes with the weather as well. The backs we've got now, the young bucks coming through, they're rock stars. They've got that flair and that's 100 per cent why England performed so well in the Six Nations. Any international team would want what those players offer.
The Wallabies have brought in a new rule allowing certain overseas players to stake a claim for the World Cup. What are your thoughts on that?
The Wallabies want an all-star team for the World Cup. Matt Giteau, for instance, has been playing brilliantly over here in Europe, so it would be nuts not to pick him. That's my personal opinion. It's exciting that they're looking abroad. Giteau's been playing well for possibly the best club in the world. They're thinking outside the box. Part of me hopes that England do the same.
You're a Kiwi who spent his formative years in Australia. Who will you be supporting come September?
I'm friends with a lot of the Wallabies like Will Genia, Quade Cooper, James Horwill and Scott Higginbotham, so I support those boys. But I'll support New Zealand as well because I'm homegrown. When the All Blacks and the Wallabies play each other, I'm neutral! Horwill is moving to Harlequins after the World Cup, and some of those other guys are rumoured to be moving to Europe too, so I might be playing against them next season. All my college years were in Australia, so I've got a lot of friends there, but all my cuzzies – and I've got a lot of them – are back in New Zealand. My mother always posts things on Facebook about me, so all the cuzzies can see what I'm up to in Bath!
Finally, how will you feel running out at the Rec tonight after a month away?
I'm really looking forward to tonight. I miss playing when we have a weekend off like we did last week. We want to give the people entertainment through the way we play. London Irish are a tough team though. They're the turnover kings of the Premiership at the moment. They're good over the ball, so it will be tough for us. We've been working on getting over the ball early in ruck situations, so it should be an exciting contest.