Here at Sharksworld we pride ourselves on being able to get up close and personal with the lads who wear the black and white jersey with pride every weekend. Our latest victim is none other than big lock Alistair Hargreaves, who we managed to corner for 10 questions.
Sharksworld: Hi Alistair. Firstly, congrats on some really strong performances recently. You’ve been close to cracking the Sharks starting team for a number of years now. Do you think you’ve finally turned a bit of a corner over the last few weeks?
Alistair Hargreaves: Thanks Rob. To a certain degree, yes. I’ve been biding my time for a while now and it was certainly a great opportunity to step into a starting jersey. More importantly though, its was great to be able to contribute to a few long awaited victories for the team!
SW: You’ve added a seriously hard edge to your game over the last year or so. Was this something you have worked on specifically? You seem to have bulked up a fair bit too.
AH: Ja, I’ve spent alot of time in the gym over the past 2 years with a big focus on putting on some good muscle mass. I’ve gotten up to around the 114kg mark which I’m pretty pleased with and it feels like a good fighting weight for me. On the physicallity aspect, I think it’s something that we take alot of pride in the pack at the Sharks, and as a team we put a lot of work year in and year out on maintaining that physical edge. The contact areas are a part of the game I really enjoy and it is definitely something I’ve worked hard on in the last few seasons.
SW: Injuries have been a factor that seemed to hamper you a fair bit over the last few seasons. Do you think you may have suffered a bit from being pushed too soon, because of your age-group pedigree? We’ve seen the impact of that sort of thing on a guy like Chilliboy Ralepelle…
AH: I think there are certain cases where players have been pushed, and injured as a result, but I’m happy with the way my progress has been managed and I just think I have been unlucky to have had a few freak injury setbacks in a row!
SW: Being initially left out of the Sharks Super 14 tour group must have been a huge disappointment. How did you pick yourself up from there and move forward?
AH: It was definately a low point for me. I was man down with Glandular Fever for a month in pre-season and the coaching staff felt that it would do me good to put in a few weeks of gym work and fitness to make sure I was in peak phsical condition to play if the opportunity arose. I’m just relieved that that opportunity did come around and it goes without saying that I didn’t have to look too far for motivation, once that Sharks jersey was in sight.
SW: Having captained South Africa at junior level, there’s a pretty high level of expectation that you’ll take over the Sharks captaincy at some stage. Is that something you think about and does it add extra pressure?
AH: Look, I relish the opportunity to captain sides; it’s a challenge that I really enjoy, but at the moment the most important thing for me is to play quality rugby for my side and that is entirely where my focus lies.
SW: Durban is a notoriously laid-back place with a very active social scene. Do you think that this environment can create too many opportunities for younger players to loose focus a little?
AH: Haha! Ja the above is true, but I’m pretty sure young players face this challege everywhere. It’s all about having a good balance. It’s something that I’ve had to learn in the past, and continue to do so, and I think its up to each individual to manage themselves appropriately.
SW: Which coach has had the biggest impact on you career so far? And which current or former player inspires you the most?
AH: Johann Muller has probably been the player that I’ve learnt the most most from in my career. I’ve shadowed him for a few years now and his knowledge as a rugby player, and more specifically his expertise on the more technical side of being a lineout forward, is second to none. Just as importantly though is that he’s a fantastic guy who is generous with his time and advice and I have found him very easy to learn from.
SW: What is your favourite thing to do away from rugby?
AH: What was that about Durban’s laid back social scene? Haha. No, I have a really fantastic family who I’m very close with, and an incredible bunch of friends who I’ve been tight with for a long time. So when I’m not playing, I just like to spend time with them, and my lovely girlfriend Carmen, and pretty much do the things a normal 23 year old would!
SW: How much of a surprise was it to be called up for the Bok tour last year and what did you learn for the experience?
AH: A massive surprise! I learnt an enormous amount from it, it was just great to see how one of history’s great rugby teams functions from the inside. Its hard to go into detail, but from the coach and captain down to the youngest player, its just an environment that encourages and demands commitment, dedication and of course, success.
SW: When you play Rugby 2009 on Playstation, do you pick Alistair Hargreaves in your team?
AH: Of course. On the wing though
We’d like to thank “Big Al” for his time and openness and wish him all the best for the remainder of the season.Tweet