David Flatman: 'Dirt trackers' we may be but we're ready to kick up a storm

View from down under with the England prop: Tour so far has been all about Aussie Rules, Chris Ashton's 'jokes' and Davie Wilson's sunscreen – but the real stuff will start when I run out on Tuesday

I am thinking about taking up Aussie Rules. OK, so these boys probably cover 20 kilometres over the course of a game and I doubt I trot much more than a quarter of that in a rugby match, but bear with me.

I reckon about a fortnight in the Perth summer sun would see me sweat off the weight of an average Labrador, leaving me a leaner, more endurance-based athlete (but still about 20 kilos heavier than your common-or-garden "footy" player). The kit is super, super tight, which, I am sure you will agree, can only be great news for my physique and public profile. But more importantly than all of this, pretty Australian girls love footy. So I would never meet any of them (wife plus physical appearance would see to that), but life is just better when the scenery is this good. Fact.

Realistically, I am unlikely – due purely to the fun Mother Nature had with my body shape – ever to receive that golden offer. In truth, it is probably the place that has captured me more than the local sports. The climate here is just about perfect; sunny and sufficiently warm that James Haskell can save a few quid on sunbeds but cool enough by night that I can exist in a bar without panting like a St Bernard in the Kalahari.

To train here is a joy. The ball remains mercifully dry and the massaging breeze that comes in off the ocean serves not only to regulate the body temperature of the gorillas but also, amusingly, to mask the effects of a strong sun on the skin of some of our fairer squad members. Davie Wilson looks like a mime artist by the time he takes the field; smothered head to toe in high-strength sun cream which, inevitably, runs into his eyes the minute he's above a jog. You can take the boy out of Newcastle...

Besides not having yet played a match, I'd describe this week as a proper week on tour. Jet-lag is always an issue, especially when one has to train at such intensity every morning, and it was nice to see that the methods designed to beat it have not evolved beyond the necessary – "Operation Keep The Boys Awake" involved some al fresco dining at a beautiful restaurant and a nice, social evening of male bonding. Nothing too crazy, but a welcome break from talking rugby and a good opportunity to get to know some new people.

Once acclimatised, the training began in earnest. With lots of new calls and systems to learn and practise, sessions could easily run for hours but in these days of professionalism and player welfare, things are kept intense, physical and concise. At no point are we left guessing where to run or what role to fulfil, every minute's work is planned and accounted for, meaning we get the most out of every session.

Yesterday saw us step up the physicality to 100 per cent to see how our skills and communication stand up under the ultimate pressure: big blokes doing their best to take your head off! It was great to be a part of and certainly left us all feeling that today's day off is earned.

The mixture of hard graft and free time to sup fruit smoothies is, I would say, just about right. It is not a holiday and there is a job to do out here that has to come first. But, and I truly believe this, rugby is a job that has to be fun, too. It is simply too hard an occupation to hold down with nothing to smile at. Fortunately we have George Chuter acting as our historical guide by offering us lots of random but well-researched trivia on the microphone during every bus trip. Chris Ashton seems to have been given the task of telling one joke a day on the team bus (against his will, naturally) but since none of us understands his Wigan accent, we have no idea whether his gags are funny or not. He sees us in the seating aisle in hysterics and feels sure he has, once again, nailed his comedy timing, so perhaps we shouldn't tell him he may as well be speaking German.

The only thing left to do is play. I cannot wait to run out against the Australian Barbarians on Tuesday night and I know the other 14 lads feel the same. Midweek dirt trackers we may be, but we are England and we intend to do the jersey justice. Of course, we all want to make the Test team, but that's not what will be running through our minds in two days' time; winning is everything. I'm just off to check my shirt size with the kit man and make sure it is as big as possible. I'm not quite the Aussie Rules antelope yet.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot