Craig Quinnell interview

Former Wales international shares his Rugby World Cup tips

Interview, Hot seat, The Knowledge

What were you up to in Dubai last week?
I was in town to play golf and attend the opening of my mate’s gym, Evolve Fitness. I was in Dubai for 10 days and played 10 games of golf. It was brilliant.

Other than golf, what did you do? Visit any nice restaurants, perhaps?
Yes, I had a fantastic steak at… what’s it called? Ruth’s Chris or something.

Aha, Ruth’s Chris Steak House: one of our favourites. So when do you plan to come back to Dubai? For the Rugby Sevens?
I can’t make the Sevens this year – my schedule doesn’t allow it – but I’m back in September for the Rugby World Cup. They’re screening all the games at Emirates Golf Club, so I’ll watch rugby and play some golf. Or maybe the other way round, depending on the schedule.

You certainly like your golf. What handicap do you play off?
Ten.

Not bad. So, speaking of the Rugby World Cup, who are the players to watch?
Everybody talks about Kiwi Dan Carter, but the player to watch is Sonny Bill Williams. He converted from rugby league then went to [French rugby union club] Toulon and is now playing in Australia – he’s going from strength to strength.

And if you had to pick two teams for the final?
Well, it’s difficult to say, but on current form I’d choose Australia and New Zealand.

Who can stop New Zealand?
The South Africans are big enough to wear the New Zealand pack down. That’s the key – wear the pack down. Of the northern hemisphere sides, only France are big enough and fast enough to stop the Kiwis. It also depends on the referee: if there’s a northern hemisphere ref [in a key game], that could change things. The World Cup is refereed differently to the Super XV competition in the southern hemisphere, so players such as Richie McCaw won’t be able to get away with some of the things he would usually. This could change things.

Have you any desire to follow the footsteps of former rugby star Va’aiga Tuigamala, who teaches at Dubai’s Repton School?
[Laughs] I love Dubai and I visit about four times a year, but I have a business at home so certainly don’t have plans to move out any time soon.
Join Craig to watch the kick-off of the 2011 Rugby World Cup on September 9 at Emirates Golf Club (04 380 1234). For more information on the tournament, see www.rugbyworldcup.com.

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