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Last Updated: Thursday, 6 September 2007, 14:40 GMT 15:40 UK
Josh Lewsey Q&A
Josh Lewsey
Josh Lewsey
England wing and 2003 World Cup winner

Josh Lewsey will start on England's right wing for their opening World Cup match against the USA on Saturday. He took time out from his preparations to answer some of your questions.

Q: In between games, what do you do as a team? Do you train for the whole week or try to get out a bit to visit a few places to switch off?
Nicholas, 17, London

Everyone's different. Some people like playing computer games or watching videos or whatever. Don't forget, there is a fair bit of training to do as well, and quite a few meetings, and it is all quite tiring, so by the time you have done recovery work, the majority of the day is gone.

Personally, I like to pop out and get away from rugby a little bit, and sample some of the sights and sounds of the local area. Here in Versailles we are obviously spoilt for choice, and some of us have already been to visit the famous Chateau which is just down the road.

Q: How are England going to cope without Jonny Wilkinson?
Martin, 22, Exeter

Jonny is an iconic name in the sport and a world-class player, and the more world-class players we have playing at the top of their game the better. But, as players, we are probably slightly less star-struck than most of the rugby-watching public. We realise no-one's position is sacred.

Of course, we want everyone to be playing at the height of their ability, and when Jonny does that, he is one of the best players to have played the game, in any era. But Olly Barkley has done really well in training, and his game management and the way he bosses a game are vital for what we need at the moment. This team can't just rely on one player.

Q: I attended both the warm-up games at Twickenham and in Marseille. The noise in the Stade Velodrome was incredible and intimidating. Does the crowd really affect players on the pitch, and does it in any way affect the outcome of the game?
Fred, 39, Kingston upon Thames

Historically and statistically, from the most basic level right up to international rugby, the home team has an advantage. Whether that is the crowd, or familiarisation with the pitch and the surroundings, it makes a difference.

People might say they block out the crowd and they don't listen to it, but that it is not the case for me. I love playing in those environments where you have a great atmosphere, whether it is hostile or friendly.

It lifts you and it is one of the biggest joys for me of playing the sport. Twickenham hasn't had a lot to shout about recently but when the team are doing well there, it is a fantastic place to play.

The Millennium Stadium is also fantastic, especially when they shut the roof, because the crowd are so close to the pitch, and the banking of the stands is so steep, it feels a lot closer. And of course you get the Welsh hymns being sung as well.

One of the best atmospheres I have played in was at Lansdowne Road when Wasps played Munster in the Heineken Cup semi-final. The spectacle of a sporting event needs to match the excitement that comes beforehand. It is sad when they don't go together but when they do, you get the greatest days in sport.

Q: Who is the hardest tackler in the England team?
Dave, 25, Sheffield

I don't know. If you ran straight into any of them they would knock you down! For me, Joe Worsley is defensively one of the best tacklers in world rugby. I remember the Heineken Cup final against Toulouse in 2004 and we knew the big Tongan flanker Isitola Maka - all 23 stone or whatever he is - would come on after 60 minutes.

We said beforehand, "He's yours, Joe" and when he did come on, Joe just cut him down. He is pretty phenomenal, but it does help that he doesn't seem to have any pain receptors!

Among the backs, Jamie Noon prides himself on his defence, and I am sure he will step up and take his opportunity on Saturday.

Q: How do you cope with the demands placed on your body following a bruising game? I find it difficult to train - in particular my lower body - following a big game as I'm still sore for anything up to a week later! Are there any special remedies or is it a case of training through the pain?!
Phill Jeffery, 24, Oxford

As a professional sportsman you are used to training with niggles, you are never 100%. Our sport is not conducive to waking up feeling like a spring chicken. The body always creaks and cracks when you get out of bed in the morning. It is just the sport we have chosen.

Q: Josh, I've always been a big fan of yours. When I return home to the UK in a few years I intend to join the Royal Marines, How did your Army experiences shape your rugby tuition?
Anthony Etherington, 24, Sydney, Australia

The biggest thing the Army taught me is there is a huge world outside rugby. Before, I used to worry about things before a game and get too nervous. But sometimes when I had been away for a week on manoeuvres or training exercises and come back and had four or five hours' sleep before a game, and then had to travel, I didn't have time to concern myself with all the details.

You learn not to worry about certain factors that don't affect you, take the opportunity to relax a bit and switch on when it matters.

Q: Josh, you've won the lot. World Cup, European Cup, Premiership, EDF Energy Cup, Parker Pen, and many more. How do you keep yourself focused, and keep your eye on the goal?
Chris Lomas, 19, High Wycombe

I've always said my goal isn't just to play for England, or even to win trophies, even though that is obviously great when it happens. My ultimate goal is to be as good a player as I can be. I am fairly critical of myself and after every game I realise what I have done well and what I haven't done well. I don't think anyone has ever played the perfect game of rugby - well, maybe I did for Amersham & Chiltern Under-8s - so that is where my motivation comes from.

Q: Do you think some of the romance has gone out of modern-day rugby? All the stress nowadays seems to be on playbooks and endless planning. Does it not get a bit dull?
Ronan Wyer, 27, London

That's a very good question. Sometimes the enjoyment factor can go out the window in professional sport because ultimately it is your job and you are no longer playing purely for fun anymore. It pays the bills, but you have all the excess pressures, sponsors' requirements and you feel a lot of responsibility for everyone else around you.

As a professional sportsman, when times are good and you are winning, it is one of the best jobs in the world. But when you are losing, it can be quite a lonely business. We perhaps need to remind ourselves that the reason we are doing it is for enjoyment.

When a team is playing well, that comes through, but when they are not and it is a bit of a struggle, sometimes guys don't play with a smile on their face and don't enjoy the experience of playing in front of thousands of people.

When you think about the days when Racing Club de Paris wore bow-ties and brought champagne onto the field at half-time, you could be a bit jealous of that. But I speak to my friends who go to work on the train every day, do a nine-to-five job, and it makes me realise we shouldn't forget how lucky we are.

Sometimes training and playing can be quite contrived in terms of style, but ultimately we have all grown up playing what we see in front of us, just using our ability without having to conform to game plans. You should try to enjoy it, and sometimes that gets forgotten, but it is vitally important, especially if you want to have longevity in what you do.

Josh will answer some more of your questions next week after England's opener against the USA and before their crucial pool clash with South Africa. If you would like to ask him a question, fill in the form at the top right of this page (website users only; not available on mobiles).
















 

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