As centres of attention go, Mike Tindall is a natural for the part. For one thing he plays in the centre for Bath and for England. Then there is the little matter of his romantic liaison with Zara Phillips, the daughter of the Princess Royal.
Yet if that were not enough, the genial Yorkshireman is now being touted as the ideal man to stand in as England captain while Jonny Wilkinson recovers from injury.
The first of the autumn internationals against Canada is 12 days away and the England squad is due to be announced later this week. If the England head coach, Andy Robinson, does hand Tindall the captaincy, the public scrutiny of his professional and private life will only intensify.
Mere mortals would quail at such a prospect, but not Tindall. "It's external happenings, it's not something you can control, so why worry about it?" he said after Bath's Heineken Cup Pool Two defeat against Leinster."If guys want to take photos of an ugly mug like mine, fine, but I've not got a secret address to hide away from them. I will not be changing anything."
It is his unflappable attitude to being in the public eye that marks Tindall out as someone special and the ideal man to lead his country, however temporarily. Certainly Steve Borthwick, his Bath team-mate and another player who is being talked of as an alternative to Tindall for England, regards him as the right man for the job. "Recently he has been having a lot of media attention on issues other than rugby," explained Borthwick, "and he has handled it really well. I would have no problems with him as my captain in any team."
Tindall, while not shying away from the subject, is more pragmatic about the speculation. "Whenever I bump into Robbo [Andy Robinson] he says to me, 'Make sure you keep playing well if you want to get into the [England] team'.
"He is very good at bringing you down to earth and not letting you get above yourself. I am not sitting around thinking about becoming captain of England. I am just getting on with playing."
It would have been better if the whole Bath team had done just that in this match. Tindall certainly tried, but on the occasions when he got close to the line, Leinster's superlative defence held firm. When they went on the attack, the Irish pack competed ferociously at set-pieces and breakdowns, and their backs were always a threat out wide. Not even the loss of Gordon D'Arcy, with a groin strain, diminished the danger.
Leinster: Tries Hickie, D'Arcy, Horgan; Conversions Holwell 3; Penalties Holwell 2; Drop goal D'Arcy. Bath: Try Crockett; Penalties Barkley 2.
Leinster: G Dempsey; S Horgan, B O'Driscoll, G D'Arcy (G Brown, 67), D Hickie; D Holwell, B O'Meara (G Easterby, 80); R Corrigan (capt), S Byrne, E Byrne (R Nebbett, h-t), M O'Kelly, L Cullen, E Miller, V Costello (A McCullen, 71), S Jennings.
Bath: C Malone; A Higgins, R Fleck (S Davey, 19 (N Walshe, 39-h-t)), M Tindall, A Crockett; O Barkley, M Wood (N Walshe, 71); D Barnes, J Humphreys (capt; L Mears, 23-32 & 59), D Bell (M Stevens, 38), S Borthwick, D Grewcock (R Fidler, 65), A Beattie, I Feaunati (G Delve, 71), M Lipman (J Scaysbrook, 77).
Referee: N Williams (Wales).Reuse content