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'Obsession' part and parcel of Peter Stringer's drive to compete

Bath’s Grand Slam winner is desperate to get back to Lansdowne Road.

PETER STRINGER’S VOICE suddenly drops a level and the words almost seems to drag along and bump every syllable.

“Obviously, that’s a game I’d like to be involved in.”

The legendary Munster and Ireland scrum-half brought up the subject of Bath’s Champions Cup quarter-final himself. A packed house on Lansdowne Road with Leinster in his sights is most definitely what he wants. And his sudden brevity reveals just how much.

“It would be pretty special. So… we’ll see.”

Peter Stringer On Saturday April 4th Leinster v Bath in the European Rugby Champions Cup quarter final is exclusively live on BT Sport 1 which is part of the Setanta Sports Pack. To subscribe visit Setanta.com Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

The 37-year-old is showing no signs of slowing down in any other areas. Sitting in a crisp shirt, he looks as fit and strong as at any point in his career. The Corkman puts it down to an “obsession” that he has taken to in recent years.

He was always a trailblazer in fitness standards. The smoking in the dressing room, the post-match pints were just never his thing. His standards are only getting higher these days.

I was always well disciplined in my diet and, probably in the last three years, for me it’s been taken to another level. I’m just constantly researching different things with different nutritionists, science towards training and stuff. It’s a bit of an obsession, but I enjoy it.

“I’m really strict on myself with regards to stretching, eating and extra training. The last couple of years I feel that the more I do, the better I feel. Even on days off, there’s rarely a day goes by where I’m not doing something.

“Nutrition and training, I’ve become obsessed with it. Making sure first and foremost that I’m as healthy as I possibly can be from a living point of view. Then, bringing that forward to my performances at training and matches.

“I don’t want to have any regrets. I want to make the most of the time I have playing and do everything I possibly can to make that last as long as I can. If I went off eating shit food for the last couple of years, I know I wouldn’t be able to live with myself and I’d beat myself up about it.”

After two and a half years in Somerset, that conditioning will earn him a new club next season after being told before Christmas that Mike Ford’s side would not be keeping him on past the summer. That’s part of the game. Nothing personal, he knows, but it remains a deep frustration when he finds himself drift down the pecking order.

‘One man’s decision’

“A lot of guys finish due to injury and not on their own terms anyway,” he says,  continuing to look on the positive aspects of his situation.

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“But there are always other teams and coaches who will want to pick you. I always based my decision on that.”

“I didn’t want to finish my career based on one man’s decision not to pick me. There’s more to my game and more to life than basing my retirement decision on that. There’s always going to be a coach in [this case] Bath who wanted to bring me over, or Saracens when they brought me over. So there are opportunities. It’s just finding the right one for you that give you that opportunity to play.”

Bath forwards and Peter Stringer Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Stringer picked one of the better ones. Ford’s side play some of the most attractive rugby in Europe. And the man Stringer hopes to partner next weekend, George Ford, almost seemed to use the Six Nations as a his own personal house of horrors for Leinster fans who were relieved to have drawn Bath in the knock-out stages.

“In the position that he’s in, he needs to be dominant, needs to control forwards, [be] vocal, control the backs and be sure of what he’s doing,” Stringer says with an admiring nod to the confidence of Ford, whose 22nd birthday is not yet two weeks passed.

“This guy – the level at which he trains and the time and effort he puts into it is just incredible. It’s like the guy has been playing the game for 10 years. He’s so disciplined. Everything he does just seems to be the right option. His quality of passing, he can run, he’ll just pick the right option at the right time.

If it’s a case of having to kick the ball into the corner all day, then he’ll do it. He’s not just going to do something different for the sake of it, but it’s a case of he reads the  game so well, he knows what to do, his accuracy of everything he does. He’ll be world class.

“It’s been great to work with him. From a scum half’s point of view you like to  have someone outside who is really vocal, dominates you, dominates where they want the ball and bosses you round the place. That’s what brings the best out of me whenever I get to play with him.”

While Bath have almost mirrored Leinster’s struggles in recent weeks with one win in four, Stringer has been forced to watch his team slip down the table from a distance as Chris Cook and Mickey Young have been preferred at half-back for month.

Though that timeframe includes tomorrow’s Premiership meeting with London Welsh, Peter Stringer will never quit and will never give up in his bid to play at the Aviva Stadium again. Not for Bath, not for Ireland, not for whoever.

“You have to believe. You have to have that belief that you can play at the top.

“As soon as you say, ‘naw, I’m just going to retire from international rugby’… for me, that’s conceding a bit. I don’t want to do that. I just want to give it everything I have for as long as I can and whatever happens, happens. I don’t want to sell myself short at any stage.”

Munster? Leinster? Peter Stringer still on the hunt for an amibitious club

About the author:

Sean Farrell

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