Will of the Week

Will Skinner’s Barclays Churchill Cup diary

Battered and bruised but raring to go in Ottawa

It’s great to be back in Canada, I love the country. I’ve never played rugby here, but I’ve been skiing before in Whistler and Banff and really enjoyed it. It’s a great place, with great food and really nice people. We arrived at the Delta hotel, which will be our home for the next seven days, yesterday afternoon and we’re already settling in.

We’re getting on well so far, but then we only met up on Sunday! We’re really excited about the tournament and getting to see North America. Our first game is against the USA on Saturday which doesn’t give us much time to prepare. The first thing we did as a squad when we met up was sit down with the coaches and set down our goals. It may be a great place to come and play, but it won’t be any fun if we don’t get it right on the pitch.

Our first priority is recovery. We arrived with a lot of battered bodies, the Leicester and Wasps boys played in the Guinness Premiership Final on Saturday and there were seven of us that played for England against the Barbarians on Sunday.

Although we won, we were disappointed we didn’t play the way we wanted to. There were a lot of new faces in the squad but mainly it was down to the Baa-Baas slowing our game down so effectively, which meant we didn’t get to play the game we wanted to. On top of that, losing Charlie (Hodgson) and Toby (Flood) slowed us up in the second half, just when we’d hoped to be able to capitalise on being the fitter team.

But we got the win, that was our aim, and for the guys coming over here it was good experience and a good stepping stone.

Now we’ve got the travel out of the way, it’s all about switching on to this tournament. The next few days will be mainly about recovering from our trip and getting rid of any jetlag. We had a quick trip to the park yesterday, just to stretch our legs. The forwards walked through some lineout calls while the backs played cricket.

We got though the flight OK, although some of the guys are pretty big for economy seats! Two of the squad got lucky though, Dom Waldouck and Tom Varndell got the ultimate upgrade – the call up to New Zealand with the senior squad. It’s great for them and for Biggsy (Tom Biggs) and Adam Powell, who’ve now joined us.

Although I’ve played against him a few times, I don’t know Adam very well yet. But he seems to be a really nice guy and a lot of the boys have said good things about him so I’m sure he’ll fit in well.

As for Tom, he’s a great tourist! He’s had to come straight over from Edinburgh where he was with the Sevens boys, luckily though he found time to lose those braids in his hair! We played together for England U21s in Argentina a few years ago, he’s one of those characters who’s always full of energy and he’s a bit of a joker too!

The guys are certainly a great squad to be leading. I’ve been captain at my club for most of the season and really enjoyed that, so I’m looking forward to this. There are a few of my Quins teammates here, Tom Guest, Ugo Monye, Adrian Jarvis and Chris Robshaw, who I know really well, now I’ve just got to build strong relationships with the boys from the other clubs.

I’m really glad we’ve got George Chuter with us. George is another really great tourist. He’s been out here to the Churchill Cup with the Saxons squad before, a few years ago, and I’ve heard stories from then, apparently he came back with an array of cowboy souvenirs! He might be able to show us the sights but I don’t think we’ll be doing too much shopping together!

With thanks to www.rfu.com