Andrew Sheridan is probably not the greatest guitarist since Django Reinhardt, although he could knock Pete Townshend into a cocked hat when it comes to reducing a Fender Stratocaster to its component parts: he is, after all, a master bricklayer who just happens to be one of the most fearsome scrummagers in world rugby. He doesn't sing like Tammy Wynette, either. If he did, he'd never live it down.
Yet Sheridan, the Sale and England loose-head prop who can rearrange an opponent's ribs with a single flexing of the biceps in the tree trunk that passes for his left arm, quietly fancies himself as a self-accompanying crooner of gentle country and western-style love songs. Yes, honestly. He has just released an album of his own material on iTunes, and is charging people the going rate for the privilege of listening to it.
This work is entitled 'Where We Go From Here', which makes a nice change from 'Where Does Sheridan Go From Here?', a question frequently to be heard on the lips of England selectors mystified by the great man's inconsistencies on the international stage. There are 16 songs on the recording, including one called 'Innocent Man', which might strike his former club-mate Luke McAllister as a little ironic. While playing against the New Zealander on the 2005 Lions tour, Sheridan almost caught him with a peach of a punch and served time in the sin-bin as a consequence.
"I knew Andrew played the guitar, but I didn't think for a moment he was as good as he is," said Dave Swanton, the head of media and public relations at Sale and a well-known local DJ to boot. "I shall refer to him as 'Prop Idol' from now on, and fully intend to play some of his songs on my radio show. Always assuming he doesn't charge me 79p a time."
Swanton added that Sheridan will now definitely be involved when Sale play their Premiership match with London Irish at Bolton's Reebok Stadium in mid-April. "If he's not in the team he'll be out there on the halfway line before the game, with a microphone and a Stetson," he said.
Sheridan's chief rival for the England loose-head position, Tim Payne of Wasps, will miss his club's opening Heineken Cup matches against Toulouse and Glasgow after picking up a two-week ban for stamping. Payne appeared before a Rugby Football Union disciplinary tribunal and admitted trampling on the Gloucester forward Jim Hamilton, and then punching Brett Deacon, during a league game at Kingsholm 11 days ago.
Meanwhile, the former Wasps player Danny Cipriani, from whom Sheridan might learn a thing or two about how not to handle the celebrity lifestyle, found himself in the news for the wrong reasons once again yesterday. England's lost midfielder failed to join his new colleagues at the Melbourne Rebels for a sponsorship announcement. Rob Macqueen, the World Cup-winning Wallaby coach who runs Australia's newest Super 15 franchise, said Cipriani had run into "visa problems".
A new stage: Sportsmen who have recorded albums
The tennis great sung with The Johnny Smyth Band in the mid-1990s. His performances were criticised and he was showered with tennis balls at some gigs before quitting in 1997.
The cricketer sings and plays guitar on his album 'Songs from the Sun House', released earlier this year.
The English golfer recorded an easy listening album 'Tony Jacklin Swings Into' in 1972.
The US golfer recorded an album 'My Life', which featured Willie Nelson and Johnny Lee. Has also sung backing vocals on a Kid Rock album.
AB de Villiers
The South African wicketkeeper sings and plays guitar with singer Ampie du Preez on 'Maak Jou Drome Waar (Make Your Dreams Come True)', released this August.