From the Front Row: Injured Butch always grins and bears it

Shoulder surgery rules Bath fly-half out for two months but you can't wipe the smile off his face

I wish I were a bit more like Butch James. I don't mean all handsome, talented and famous, I mean more permanently upbeat. I would like to think of myself as a positive person but, like most of us, during the hard times I am prone to a bit of a sulk.

If we lose a match I allow my head a set amount of time to hang low and my shoulders to sag. Then I get over it and get on with it. Injuries, though, injuries test me far more. Yes, they are unavoidable in this game of ruffians but that does not seem not to dilute their horridness one little bit.

Arriving at the club to see the rest of the lads analysing this week's opponents and knowing you're not going to be able to contribute a bead of sweat for their cause makes one feel depressingly impotent.

If the coach asks how I am, I invariably lie or bluff: "Really good mate, these physios want to loosen up a bit." Age and experience have not seen me grow out of this childish habit – we all do it. These untruths do nothing but augment the feeling of temporary self-loathing and, while smiling, serve to sink one that little bit lower.

Then it's home to the poor old wife. I think that all rugby clubs ought to have a house they keep free for injured players. A place where they could all stay together (if Bath decide to do this, I want a cleaner, cook and dog walker, thank you). This way, those closest to the invalids would see their suffering stop. The bad moods, low energy levels and the aggressive refusal to engage in any sort of conversation would be banished to a building far away. My wife would pay the rent.

Things are a bit different with old Butchie, though. At the end of our season he joined up with the South Africa squad. There, sadly, he picked up an injury, and he will be out of action for a while. Thing is, when you see him the bloke is all smiles. Straight back into the team room, joking and laughing, adding vital tips and opinions during the match previews and generally lighting up the room. Had you never seen him play, you might be forgiven for assuming he just wasn't that bothered by missing games. But you have, so you know what the bloke puts into his rugby.

I regard him as probably the only player around with as little regard for his safety as our own Lewis Moody. The guy is heart and soul, every time. So why no signs of depression, I ask jealously? I blame the parents. In Butch they must have installed such a solid sense of perspective that he has become a man who only worries about what he can affect. What's done is done. A lovely way to be, you'll agree.

The person everyone forgets in these situations is the coach. The phone call telling you that one of your best players needs surgery must hit you like a punch in the throat. We are lucky to have Sam Vesty firing but still, assets lying lame must be a killer for the top man. Harry Redknapp had similar calls about Jermain Defoe and Michael Dawson from the England football camp and all the talk seemed to be of who was to blame. Redknapp unhappy – shock horror. I imagine Steve Meehan is unhappy, but this is sport, blokes get hurt and our coaches deal with it well; loads of support and a few smiles along the way.

The key is how you handle it. You can stomp or you can stride, you can grumble or you can grin. But once the damage is done one thing is for sure: negativity will get you roughly nowhere. Here we were thinking that all the likes of Butch James had to teach was the banana kick and car-crash tackle. Instead, as an injured player, he becomes an accidental spiritual guide. Which is lucky, as I've got a knock this week and need all the help I can get.

Saints pull plug but Bath will be back

Friday at Franklin's Gardens was one of those nights. For a decent amount of time the match hung in the balance and, had Olly Barkley hit his usual percentages from the kicking tee, there might have been a point in it at half-time. From the relative comfort of my armchair, I was entirely optimistic at the interval.

During the week we picked out certain names in the Saints side to target but the thing is, when the form team in a competition as tough as the Aviva Premiership hit the sort of strides Saints did, it's not going to be pretty for the other blokes.

Up front the home side were fabulous. Dylan Hartley, so often talked about as a suspect arrowsman and penalty machine, was superb, running on to the ball time and again with murder in his eyes. Phil Dowson, a child of England's forgotten generation (for how long?), was into everything. Yes, life is easier when things are going your way but he looked as fresh and creative after an hour as he did at kick-off. A run-out in a super-tight white jersey cannot be far away.

And it was this platform that allowed the Northampton backline to explode. The hyper- intelligent, explosive Chris Ashton always seems to be in a great place to receive ball, invariably supplied by another England hopeful, scrum-half Lee Dickson.

It was an evening that saw Northampton send out a message of confidence. Watching as a Bath player was tough, but I couldn't help but be impressed by our opponents. After all, if one draws nothing from an experience then it wasn't an experience. We will regroup, review and move on. We need to banish these demons as soon as possible and sport, though so often so brutal, is also charitable by offering a shot at redemption so soon. It's time to lace up our boots and work on a message of our own.

News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
News
James Argent from Towie is missing, police say
newsTV star had been reported missing
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
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

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone