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Richard Mathers Q&A

Richard Mathers. Pic: Warrington Wolves

This season's Carnegie Challenge Cup reaches its climax on Saturday when Warrington take on Huddersfield at Wembley.

The game will be shown live from 1400 BST on BBC One and online, with commentary also on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra.

Ahead of the game, we gave you the chance to quiz Wolves full-back Richard Mathers.

Thank you for your questions, Richard answers the best below:


What has it meant for you as a player to come to a club with big expectations like Warrington and reignite your career after a difficult time in the National Rugby League and at Wigan?
Simon Ferguson, Newton-le-Willows

It has meant a lot because it had been a tough period for me after a successful time at Leeds. Sometimes you realise that you can have injuries and bad form and not everything in the garden is rosy but that is all part of being a professional.

I've enjoyed coming to a club with great people and spirit and it has been good for me.

What is it like to be working under Tony Smith and have you found it easy settling in at Warrington?
John Smith, Warrington

I was a bit apprehensive coming to a new team in the middle of the season but straight away everyone made me feel welcome and that made it easier for me to fit in. It's a pleasure to go to training with a smile on my face. I'm still based in Leeds and travel over every day with Scott Grix and Garreth Carvell in what is known affectionately as the Yorkshire Bus. We take turns to drive and I couldn't do it by myself - I'd miss the banter!

Tony Smith
Tony Smith has made a big impact since taking over as Warrington coach

Tony sets very high standards and his depth of knowledge of the game is incredible. He is very honest, which players respect, and I knew he would help me get my game back, even though it would be challenging for me every day.

Your form since joining the Wire has been outstanding. What do you put this down to?
Gary Sim, Newtown, Powys

I think it goes back to being confident and happy in your environment. The public perception of rugby league players is that we are tough guys but I think if we are all honest, we are like anyone else and want to feel wanted and appreciated.

From the start at Warrington everyone has been superb and it has given me more confidence. I played a couple of reserve games when I arrived and sat down with Tony as he picked my game to pieces.

Although it was damning, it gave me lots to improve on and it felt like my game was getting back into order. I think I had got into a rut in my own mind at Wigan and the harder I tried, the worse it got and it was frustrating. I gave everything and it just didn't work.

What did it feel like to beat your former team in the Challenge Cup semi-final?
Jake Jones, Warrington

It was a bittersweet experience. I was obviously over the moon to win and get to Wembley and it was a brilliant occasion but I didn't take any personal satisfaction that it was Wigan we beat. I still have friends on the team and I felt for them being on the losing side.

What is the atmosphere like around the town in Warrington now that the Wolves are going to Wembley?
Katie Birchall, Warrington

It's been absolutely brilliant. On the Monday after the final, we set off early for training and when we got to the stadium around 7.30am there were people queuing in the rain to get their Cup final ticket.

It was a great feeling and I know it means a lot to the supporters to get to a big game. Unlike Leeds, Warrington is a one-team town and while they are quick to tell you when you are not playing well, it is great for us to give the supporters something to cheer about.

What does this final mean to you after you making it with Leeds in 2005 but losing to Hull. Is this one as exciting?
Mike Oxard , Leeds

Richard Mathers during his time at Leeds
Mathers lost in the 2005 Challenge Cup final while playing for Leeds

Although the result didn't go our way, the 2005 final was a brilliant occasion for me but walking out at Wembley will be extra special for me and a great personal milestone for my family as they have been the ones who have had to make sacrifices for me and my job.

My mum died a couple of years ago and I know she will be looking down on me on Saturday.

Is this going to be the biggest match of your career? If not, which was?
Seb, Bradford

I think it will be the biggest game I've been involved in. I've been spoiled to have played in quite a few big matches in my career and maybe I took things for granted when I was younger.

But having had a couple of injuries and a dark spell in my career, it has made me realise that big games don't come around as often as you would like so I will make the most of this one.

Are Warrington going to concentrate on Wembley or try to reach the play-offs as well?
Thomas Mannion, Warrington

After Wembley we have two Super League games left and we are not yet completely out of contention for the play-offs. We want to do well in all competitions and it is important for us to try to make the top eight and give ourselves a chance in the play-offs and I know Tony wants that as well.

Do you think Warrington can use the success this year to break into the top four places next season?
Nathan Rutland, Warrington

I think that has to be our ultimate goal and with a full off-season under Tony - and maybe with one or two additions - we will be aiming for that in 2010.

What is the bigger game for a modern-day rugby league player? Playing in a Super League Grand Final or the Challenge Cup?
Casual Des, Orford, Warrington

Both are massive occasions and have their merits. I've been lucky enough to have played in both and I think that the romantic in me believes that playing in a Challenge Cup final at Wembley is better. But looking at it as a professional, the Grand Final is the bigger one.

Do you have any special diet for match day and are you superstitious?
A Hewitt, Warrington

Like all players, I try to eat well all week but I'm not really a big eater. On match-day mornings I have a big bowl of porridge with berries and manuka honey and some green tea and maybe a protein shake. Later on I might have some sushi and some fruit. Then in the early afternoon some beans on toast. I don't have any particular superstitions but I do like to make sure my iPod is fully charged.

If you could play a different sport for a day what would it be?
Adam Burnett, Scholes, West Yorkshire

Does poker count as a sport? If so, I'd like to take part in the World Series of Poker. Failing that, I've got huge respect for triathletes and I do fancy running a marathon one day.

Who is the best player you have played with and against both here in the Super League and the NRL?
Pete Connor, Warrington

Jamie Peacock is a very inspirational figure for the way he trains and what he stands for and how he plays with his heart on his sleeve and he made a big impression on me during my time at Leeds. It was also a pleasure to play with Preston Campbell at the Gold Coast Titans. He has unbelievable skills and what he could do with the ball was magic.

Andrew Johns
Andrew Johns had a brief spell at Warrington in 2005

The toughest players I've played against were former Great Britain and Wigan star Andy Farrell and former Australia player Andrew Johns. Andy Farrell was always uncompromising and dominant and for a young player it was an experience to play against him.

I played against Andrew Johns when he made his Warrington debut and it was a privilege, although his kicking caused me all sorts of problems.

Having played for the Gold Coast Titans in the NRL, do you think the Aussies are really as far ahead of us as the World Cup showed?
Faji, Bradford

Player for player, we are on the same terms but Australia are way ahead when it comes to things like training and sports science. Although the Leeds set-up was first class, when I went to the Gold Coast the training was like chalk and cheese, especially in how physical it was.

I also think we play far too many games here and we have to look at how we look after the welfare of our elite players. A five-year plan that has success in the 2013 World Cup as its main aim would be good.

Is playing in Australia something that you think more young British players should experience?
Andrew, Leeds

Australia is a real hotbed of rugby league and the competition to get a starting spot is fierce. Not many players get the chance to play in the NRL and when the option came up, it was something I thought a lot about before making my decision.

The NRL is the ultimate test for a rugby league player and for me, bar the injury, it was nothing but a good experience and it is something I will always be able to say I experienced and I would recommend it to anyone. It allows you to experience another culture and live and work abroad and it I think it makes you a more rounded person.

AND FINALLY, THE QUESTION WE ARE ASKING EVERYONE THIS SEASON:

Which of your team-mates would you most and least like to be stuck on a desert island with?

I'd most like to be stuck with one of the Anderson brothers - Vinny or Louis. Both are tough and have the practical skills you need for island living. Although Louis is the tougher one, Vinny likes to play poker so we could do that. They both like fishing so they could be in charge of catching some food.

I'd least like to be stuck with Paul Rauhihi because although his jokes have me laughing at training. He just keeps going and going and if I had to be with him all the time it would make me want to kill him.



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see also
Super League Show
17 Feb 08 |  Rugby League
A Challenge Cup dream realised
27 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
Wigan 26-39 Warrington
08 Aug 09 |  Rugby League
Mathers returns to UK with Wigan
06 Nov 07 |  Rugby League
Season over for injured Mathers
18 Jun 07 |  Rugby League
Mathers to join Gold Coast outfit
23 May 06 |  Leeds
Full-back Mathers out for season
17 May 06 |  Leeds


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