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Rugby farewell to the Lions legend that drove a golf buggy down the M4

Andy Powell’s League switch is a boost for Jamie Heaslip’s chances of a trip to Oz.

Andy Powell acts the goat on the 2009 Lions Tour.
Andy Powell acts the goat on the 2009 Lions Tour.
Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

RUGBY UNION HAS lost one of its more interesting characters following confirmation of Andy Powell’s switch to rugby league.

The Wales and Lions forward, who played with Sale Sharks for the past two seasons, will joining Wigan Warriors in the summer.

The switch ends all speculation that Powell, a Warren Gatland favourite, may be an outside bet to reprise his role as No.8 for the British & Irish Lions in Australia this summer. The 31-year-old played his last Test match in February 2012 and was not selected by interim head coach Rob Howley when he took over from Gatland.

Powell played 23 times for Wales and travelled on the Lions Tour to South Africa as back-up to Jamie Heaslip.

In a warm-up match against Western Province, Powell made this monstrous hit on Duane Vermeulen [now with Clermont Auvergne]:

YouTube credit: lionstour2009

Powell gained worldwide notoriety in 2010 for ‘a stupid prank’ following Wales’ Six Nations win over Scotland. He drove a golf buggy down the M4 [motorway] and was arrested by police at service station. Following the arrest, Powell told The Guardian:

I’ve done stupid things before when I’ve had too many sherbets but nothing like this. I was on a high after the match and had a few beers to relax. I thought taking the buggy was a bit of fun but when you’ve had a few too many beers, everything goes.”

An arresting officer remarked to Powell ‘What hole were you playing?’ He returned to the international fold six months later, November 2010.

Speaking about his rugby league switch, Powell said, “I have always thought that a move to Rugby League could be an option for me at some point in my career and when I learned of Wigan Warriors interest I was excited about the chance to make the switch. They are the biggest name in Rugby League; they also have a rich history of Welsh connections over the years and are a huge name in the Principality.

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“I am looking forward to being able to make the transition between codes,” he added. “This is a huge new chapter in my rugby career and I can’t wait to get started.”

Wigan chairman Ian Lenegan commented, “The trend in recent years has been for top rugby league players to make the move in the opposite direction and the signing of Andy is a marquee moment for the sport. Rugby league is a magnificent game of great attraction to rugby union players for its speed and open try-scoring style.”

Wigan intimated that it is hoping to attract several other rugby union players to the club over the summer.

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Patrick McCarry

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