Would you recommend playing in France to other English players?
I would definitely recommend it. It was a fantastic life experience for me to spend three years living in Paris. I learned a new language, experienced a different culture and met lots of interesting people.
In terms of the rugby, again I enjoyed the new experiences. I played with and against some world class players. There is an unbelievable amount of talent in the French Top 14. On the downside I would say that I found the levels of player care to be lower in France.
The French owners are happy to spend a fortune on players but are much less willing to invest in the medical and conditioning departments. At Stade Francais last season we had one full-time physio and two part-timers in the medical department, whereas at Wasps we have three physios, one sports therapist and two masseurs, all full-time. As an older player you appreciate being able to get the correct treatment.
What is your match-day routine before an England Test?
I get up at about 8.30am and have a bowl of porridge and a protein shake. Then read the paper and kill time until 10 when the team go down to the training pitch for “walk throughs”. The forwards and backs split, us forwards go through our lineouts, we don’t go up in the air, just walk through all the different calls and moves. Pre-match meal is on from 10.30am until midday. I tend to eat at 11, three-and-a-half hours before kick-off. I always have grilled chicken breast, sweet potato mash, bolognaise sauce and green vegetables. Then a couple of pancakes with maple syrup. At noon, Stuart Lancaster says a few words. The bus leaves the hotel at 12.15pm. From 1pm to 2pm is personal time. Just before 2pm, we all get together and the captain says a few words before we go out on to the pitch to warm up. We come back in around 2.23pm, have a few minutes to get changed into our match kit and do any final preparations.
The coach then says his final words before the starting 15 huddle round listening to the captain give his team talk.
From @jakie_eds and @reecebrads97
What is your career highlight?
Winning the Heineken Cup with Wasps. The best I’ve felt after a match was my first England start, beating South Africa in 2006.
Is the experiment with TMOs in the Premiership working?
It is a good idea for them to be able to refer decisions they are unsure of to someone who has the benefit of slow motion.
Who is the best lock you have ever played with and against?
With, Simon Shaw or Pascal Pape. Against, Martin Johnson.
What would you be doing if you didn’t play rugby?
I’m currently looking at my options after retirement.
Lucozade Sport is the official sports drink of England Rugby and we are rewarding amateur players with their very own Call Up. Nominate the club player whose performances most deserve it. Visit www.lucozade.com/Englandcallup