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Page last updated at 18:49 GMT, Friday, 27 February 2009

Banned Stevens set to open cafe

Matt Stevens in action for Bath
Stevens is banned from rugby union until January 2011

England prop Matt Stevens will open a cafe in the next few months as he starts his two-year drugs ban, says Bath and England team-mate Lee Mears.

Stevens, 26, tested positive for cocaine last month and is banned from rugby union until January 2011.

But business partner Mears said Stevens will focus his attention on their cafe, called Jika Jika, which they hope to open in Bath in the spring.

"I think he will do that and take his mind off rugby for a bit," he said.

"We have just got full planning permission and we should be starting a full refurb this week. It is in the city centre and should be open around April or May.

"He has got a lot of stuff lined up. He will do a lot of charity stuff. There are rumours he has been out pacing the roads in Bath getting ready for a marathon."

When Matt comes back he will be 28. If anything it will make him hungrier

Lee Mears

Stevens's ban will rule him out of the Lions' summer tour to his native South Africa - the inspiration behind the cafe's name, which comes from the Zulu word for twist - as well as seriously affect his hopes of taking part in the 2011 World Cup.

He has accepted "full responsibility" for his actions and opted against appealing against the ban, which expires on January 18, 2011.

But hooker Mears believes Stevens's absence will help him become stronger and more determined to succeed when he eventually returns to action.

"He and I both knew a few weeks ago he was going to be banned for two years. It will be tough, he knows that and it is one of the big shocks," said Mears.

"We discussed it then and it does make me realise how privileged I am to be representing club and country.

"Matt has got my full support and he will come back a lot stronger from it. I am packing down in a scrum with Phil Vickery and Julian White who are the other side of 30 now.

"When Matt comes back he will be 28. If anything it will make him hungrier.

"In terms of getting back on the England stage that is a long way off. He will get back to enjoying his rugby at Bath if they will have him, or wherever he goes."

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see also
Bath feel 'let down' by Stevens
21 Jan 09 |  English
Manchester prop banned for drugs
10 Dec 08 |  English
Sailor handed two-year suspension
21 Jul 06 |  Internationals

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