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Monday, 7 October, 2002, 10:05 GMT 11:05 UK
All Black not blue
Daryl Gibson in action for the Crusaders against the Blues
Gibson won the Super 12 with the Crusaders

When you meet Daryl Gibson it is not hard to guess that he is a rugby player.

Physically, everything from his four-square shoulders to his spectacularly asymmetrical nose indicates a man who earns his corn in the demanding world of professional rugby.

Add in the clipped Kiwi accent, with vowels shortened to within an inch of their life, and Gibson appears every bit the All Black that, until recently, he was.

As a member of the all-conquering Canterbury Crusaders squad in the Super 12 and the victorious All Blacks squad in the 2002 Tri-Nations, Gibson should be eyeing the 2003 World Cup.

Daryl Gibson is tackled while playing for New Zealand against Italy
Gibson won 19 caps for the All Blacks

But instead he has travelled halfway round the world to sign for the Zurich Premiership's bottom club, Bristol, ending any World Cup ambitions in the process.

On Friday, 11 October, Gibson embarks on a Heineken Cup campaign alongside his new team-mates.

And he says the chance to play in the pan-European competition was a big factor in his decision to head for the West country.

"One of the main reasons why I came to the northern hemisphere was to play in the Heineken Cup," said the 27-year-old Kiwi.

"I wanted to experience playing against different clubs from different nations - everyone plays the game differently, which is an added bonus.

"I wanted to experience something different, like the Heineken Cup and the Zurich Premiership, and do it while I'm still fit.

In terms of intensity playing against Leicester was pretty similar to the Super 12
Bristol centre
Daryl Gibson

"I'm ready to give it everything."

Gibson has only played three times for Bristol and finally made it through a full game for his new club in the defeat to Leeds on Sunday.

Before that he had been on the receiving end of some playful banter from the Bristol faithful because of his failure to stay on the pitch for the full 80 minutes.

He was sin-binned during the Shoguns' heroic 14-man win against Leicester and came off injured during his debut against Gloucester.

But the New Zealander has already shown enough class to confirm his big reputation, despite the culture shock experienced adjusting to the slower northern hemisphere game.

Daryl Gibson is tackled by Leicester's Steve Booth and Lewis Moody during Bristol's 25-20 win over the Tigers
Gibson (front) has made a big impact for Bristol

"There is a considerable difference between New Zealand and here," said Gibson.

"There is a lot more kicking for touch and position, although in terms of physicality it's still pretty physical.

"Teams play quite a conservative game, they don't tend to ship the ball, but I think that's one thing you've just got to adjust to in the northern hemisphere."

It may sound as though Gibson is not overly impressed by the rugby he has encountered so far.

But he has plenty of respect for reigning English and European champions Leicester.

"In terms of intensity, playing against Leicester was pretty similar to the Super 12," he said.

Bristol turned in a mighty performance to get the better of the champions as they notched their first win of the season.

And Gibson believes that the victory over the Tigers shows that the faltering Shoguns have the potential to enjoy a successful season.

"I'm enjoying it, and hopefully we can put a few more performances together and have a few more wins," he said.

Bristol may be struggling at the moment, but with the teak-tough Gibson in harness, no team in Europe will expect an easy ride when they meet the Shoguns.

Bristol fly-half Felipe Contepomi
"We need to put our training onto the field"
Bristol head coach Peter Thorburn
"We're not far off playing good football"
See also:

29 Sep 02 | English
21 Sep 02 | English
03 Sep 02 | International
01 Sep 02 | English
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