Rising Australia star Pete Samu has revealed his true rugby apprenticeship was a season spent in Cornwall battling snow-capped pitches and local ciders.
The 26-year-old Wallaby used to have everyone think he had cut his back row teeth in a two year stint at New Zealand’s Super Rugby powerhouses Canterbury Crusaders.
Brumbies flanker Samu could make his Twickenham bow against England on Saturday if David Pocock fails to recover from a shoulder complaint.
And the eight-cap back-rower has now explained how, aged 18, he came to spend a year at St Ives RFC.
“It was a great experience being out in St Ives, I played a season there when I was 18,” said Samu.
“One day we were meant to be playing and it started snowing. I thought the game was going to get cancelled. So I didn’t get changed.
“The boys asked me what I was doing and I said ‘it’s snowing’. They said ‘well, we’re warming up in five minutes’. I was like ‘oh f***’, and got changed! I still have a few mates here messaging me saying to catch up some time this week.”
Breakdown master Pocock is battling a neck injury and remains a selection doubt for Saturday’s clash with England in west London.
Australia could leave a decision on the 30-year-old’s fitness as late as Friday, while the Wallabies have also had to contain a sickness bug this week.
Full-back Israel Folau and fly-half Bernard Foley have both struggled, and are fighting back to full health.
Melbourne-born Samu still cannot fathom his experienced Wallabies back-row colleagues Pocock and Michael Hooper seeking his advice.
While Samu is content to soak up as much knowledge from his colleagues as possible, he might limit the number of anecdotes he offers from his time in Cornwall.
Samu said: “My coach in junior footy in Melbourne arranged the Cornwall switch. I was straight out of school and wasn’t doing anything so I thought ‘why not give it a crack’. I think I learned a lot off the field at St Ives. They don’t mind a few ciders after the game.
“What’s that drink, spiderbites? No, snakebites, that’s it. That’s no good, no good!
“I spent most of my time in St Ives and went elsewhere if we travelled for away matches. They have got very nice beaches in St Ives. I was only there for one winter but they said summer was good. I just didn’t get to see it.
“It was quite old school. Our coach had a few good stories about when he was playing for Cornwall about all his punch-ups and off-the-field antics.”
Asked whether he is learning from Hooper and Pocock, Samu added: “They are both definitely great leaders. It is good because they are the same position so we all feed off each other.
“I get quite shocked when they ask me for tips on things to do. I do give them tips, but maybe more off the field.”