Jimmy Gopperth ready to dip his toe into new waters with Leinster
Outhalf not happy to be simply a back up after Newcastle Falcons and is prepared to challenge Ian Madigan
Jimmy Gopperth in action for Newcastle Falcons. The outhalf also played for the Hurricanes and Blues. Photograph: Alex Livesey/Getty Images
The surfing section of this Jimmy Gopperth interview comes later. Considering the New Plymouth native is a professional rugby player, signed by Leinster to replace Jonathan Sexton (or is that to provide cover for Ian Madigan?) we felt it prudent to lead off with that area of expertise.
The Newcastle Falcons seems a peculiar club for a one-time All Black triallist to spend the last four years of his twenties playing the game he was born to run.
“I was just kind of sitting behind Dan Carter for ages,” said Gopperth, stalling in the dead ball area of Cill Dara RFC last Friday morning after signing his name roughly a thousand times.
“I had a young family and I saw the opportunity. I had a few mates in Newcastle at the time and coming overseas, there was a good atmosphere and it was so much more low key outside of rugby so you could enjoy it, enjoy life.
“I had a great four years there. The rugby was not that flash at times, but I adapted really well and had some great experiences.”
“I got an All Black trial in 2005 and was always sniffing around. I played Junior All Blacks in 2006 and I was there or there abouts. When you have Dan Carter and Nick Evans floating around, for myself and Stephen Donald it was such a conveyor belt.
“I was playing good footy and enjoying myself but it is so hard to crack that black jersey, which is something all young New Zealanders wants to do. I was unfortunate, but I still played at a high level and have no regrets.”
Glint in his eye
Then Newcastle. Now here. There’s a glint in his eye as he delivers the next comment.
“I’m ready for the opportunity to come back into that environment again; to play for a team that is going to be contending for the Heineken Cup is even better. There is a huge buzz around the city, you can see it here today, and that tunes you in a little more. You can test yourself against the best players and the best players in the squad.”
Up at the other 22, Ian Madigan is still scribbling away alongside Luke Fitzgerald and a barely visible Brian O’Driscoll, the barrel of kids threatening to collapse in upon him.
Until, that is, his smiling face, reappears from underneath the wave of admirers.
We choose our next words carefully. Gopperth probably knows by now that he will be fielding the Madigan question from now until our next heat wave, circa 2016, when his contract runs dry.