David Flatman: I'm not one to beg but please let me wear Red Rose again

View from the front row with Bath & England prop

As a sportsman, one is almost duty-bound to refrain from giving any actual opinions, voicing any concerns or sharing any genuine desires when asked a question by anyone other than one's own mother. In the terrifying interview situation, the straight bat is the tool of choice when the brain is scrambling to find an answer that will not offend anybody or let too much go. However, as a sports fan, I am as bored and frustrated as anyone by the allergy to actual information that seemingly infects the minds of sporting interviewees the world over. So I thought I might break the mould a little.

In a few days, Martin Johnson will announce his England squad to tour Australia and New Zealand. It wouldn't half be nice to be in it. I know, I have now opened myself up to the ritualistic banter and haranguing reserved solely for a rugby player by his team-mates but it is true; I want to go. Were I not selected then the disappointment would outweigh the boys' fun anyway, so the risk is minimised at least.

The last England tour I was on was in 2004, incidentally to the very same parts of the world. I had picked up what seemed to be a relatively innocuous heel injury a week before the end of the season and, despite the best efforts of the medical staff, remained injured for the trip's duration. And, as it happened, for another 19 months after that. To be there from start to finish but not once lace up my boots was a real low point. Yes, I worked hard at my rehabilitation but I was never part of the tour, and I arrived home feeling I had unfinished business (and a bloody sore foot – the 24-hour flight made it look like my granny's!).

More bad luck and injuries followed and, cue violins please, all hopes of an England recall looked lost for eternity. Yes, all very sad I know but please, save your tears. I always believed that, despite experts disagreeing, I could become a consistent player again capable of doing the England jersey justice should the call ever come.

It was one pearl of wisdom from the physiotherapist who – not to put too fine a point on it – saved my career that illuminated a lightbulb in my darkening little mind. He said: "David, you work hard and that is good. But if you want to keep playing you need to work harder than everybody else and harder than your current mental parameters deem reasonable." And so began a 12-month programme involving a gruelling endurance circuit after breakfast every day, with no days off permitted. No holidays. No booze. No rest.

Now were I a rower or a triathlete this might not have been quite such a shock to the system but, as I mentioned last week, we rugby types are more used to the sort of regime that, while full of hard graft, also allows time to relax with a beverage of choice. While I do not, of course, believe that a bit of hard yakka should qualify a paid employee for the Victoria Cross, it did bring with it great rewards; being fit and available season after season is a gift in itself.

But what would be even nicer is for one's name to pop up on Teletext next week. If it doesn't, I will live. If it does, I might just put the kettle on and celebrate in style. So with this cathartic episode now fully promulgated I must slip back into Chief Superintendent mode, for we must never give too much away. The power of information is a shadow cast over us all.

Robot the only thing missing at the Rec

It was a dead rubber for Leeds yesterday but Bath's coach, Steve Meehan, had stressed that it was our most important game of the season. All the pats on the back we have had would have meant nothing if we had failed to make the top four. Our fate was in our hands – which would have been inconceivable six months ago – and to fail would have been a case of monumental choking.

The game was tetchy for 20 minutes – we hadn't played for a fortnight and there was so much at stake. But we got over the line and I claim credit for an immaculate bounce pass to Joe Maddock which resulted in Matt Banahan's try. The assist of the season?

I even sniffed a try of my own, only for the referee to blow up when I was "clear". David Rose, the fourth official, had just come on to replace the injured Martin Fox. I said to Rosie: "Mate, your first contribution is to deny this crowd at the Rec my first try celebration in seven years. I hope you're proud!" For those interested, my celebration would have been a mix of Peter Crouch's robot and Gazza's dentist's chair. I'd have avoided the Robbie Fowler "white lines" special.

So it's Leicester away in the semis. There is no bigger challenge in English rugby. We go up there as huge underdogs but we're having a great time and if we can pull it off, spirits will be even higher than they are. Which is hard to imagine.

Sport
Murray celebrates reaching the final
tennis
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
Life and Style
tech
News
James Corden’s social media footprint was a factor for CBS
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Henry VIII played by Damien Lewis
tvReview: Scheming queens-in-waiting, tangled lines of succession and men of lowly birth rising to power – sound familiar?
Sport
Harry Kane celebrates scoring the opening goal for Spurs
footballLive: All the latest transfer news as deadline day looms
Arts and Entertainment
Master of ceremony: Jeremy Paxman
tvReview: Victory for Jeremy Paxman in this absorbing, revealing tale
News
Sir David Attenborough
people
Life and Style
Young girl and bowl of cereal
food + drink
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

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness