Bruce Reihana proved why he is regarded as the top player in the Zurich Premiership as he ran in two wonder tries for the Barbarians in theri heavy defeat of England at Twickenham at the weekend.
Northampton's ex-All Black also kicked six conversions to scoop 22 points a week before he descends on Cardiff to play in the Rob Howley and Scott Quinnell tribute match at the Millenium Stadium. No wonder, therefore, that one of his predecesors at Northampton, former Wales and Lions centre Allan Bateman, has been having sleepless nights ahead of Sunday's Britain & Ireland XV v Rest of the World XV game.
Now 40, Bateman thought that sleepless nights before big games were a thing of the past, but he has admitted to some extra tossing and turning as he prepares for one last fling at the Millennium Stadium. He may have helped his home town team Maesteg win promotion to the Welsh Premier League last season, and still be turning out for Bridgend Blue Bulls in the summer rugby league conference, but Sunday's date at the home of Welsh rugby for the Rob Howley and Scott Quinnell testimonial match is an altogether different matter.
"I was delighted to be asked to play and accepted in a flash, but then I caught sight of the Rest of the World XV that Rob has put together for the game," said Bateman. "I could hardly believe my eyes when I looked at who I will be lining up against. I may still be playing, but there is a world of difference between Division One in Wales and the Zurich Premiership and Heineken Cup.
"Bruce Reihana, Andre Snyman, Tevita Vaikano, Stefan Terblanche and Gerald Merceron are all set to turn out for Rob's side and it is going to be a hell of a job to keep track of them. They are all world class players who are still playing at the highest of levels. I've putting in a little bit of extra training to make sure I don't make a fool of myself on Sunday. These games are fantastic to play in, and great fun for the fans, but the last thing you want is to look out of place."
During his 35 cap career with Wales, 1997 tour with the Lions and a rugby league career that saw him play for Wales and Great Britain, Bateman was renowned as one of the greatest tacklers in the world game. He will be teaming up with Gregor Townsend, Neil Jenkins, Kenny Logan, Mark van Gisbergen and Alex King in Scott Quinnell's Britain & Ireland XV back division.
There will also be a guest appearance by former Scotland and Rangers soccer star Ally McCoist, who is set to kick the conversions and make his rugby union debut in the game. Tickets are still on sale (10 and 15 for adults, half price for concessions and 19 for a family ticket) and there will be two curtain raisers before the main event. Tickets can be bought over the phone at Ticketmaster - 08705 582 582.
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