' />
Rugby lover, commentator and Hong Kong Sevens aficionado.

Q: You've just returned from commentating another Hong Kong Sevens. Do you enjoy it more than 15s?

In 1999 the international circuit started and, with TVNZ losing the 15s rights to Sky, I was pushed to sevens. I went tentatively. Now I find the format addictive. It's a running, passing game with plenty of space. I compare that to watching the Hurricanes where defensive patterns tend to shut those elements out.

Q: Hong Kong must feel familiar. How many times have you worked at the tournament?

My first was in 1986. I've missed a few for various reasons but I think that was my 23rd.


Q: Why do you love it?

It's still the best tournament on the circuit. Serious work gets done but it's also a great social week.

Q: The infamous south stand patrons lead the way on the social front...

There's a lot of drinking but somehow people know how to behave. There used to be a huge bloke to whom the crowd would chant "Who ate all the pies?" He could balance a jug of beer on his tummy and not spill a drop. A man dressed as a chicken also ran the length of the field this year to score under the posts and he was led away quite nicely by security rather than hustled.

Q: Do you have a favourite try?

Christian Cullen and Jonah Lomu scored some beauts but I was standing on the sideline when Tomasi Cama Snr scored against a flailing John Gallagher [for Fiji v New Zealand in 1990]. The ball was swung over the top of one player and through the legs of another before reaching Cama out wide. Gallagher chased and gave up. It was sevens magic.

Q: Was that era better than today?

No, I think there are just more specialists now. In the early days you'd see familiar 15-a-side players like David Campese and Zinzan Brooke involved, now we don't. It's harder for the fans to recognise and understand who the stars are. I think we'll see the emergence of more specific sevens stars after the 2016 Olympics.


Q: Beyond numbers, what method do you use to recognise players when you're commentating teams like Trinidad and Tobago, Barbados and American Samoa?

Well, there's nothing about them on Google or in the papers but all the teams stay at the Marco Polo hotel. Miniature team flags are on the tables in the giant banquet hall for the three meals a day. I approach coaches or managers to see if they'd be kind enough to point out players to get a gauge of their face and stature. In fact it was quite moving sitting down with some of the American Samoan blokes who lost family members in the [2009] tsunami.

Q: All that food must tempt hungry players?

They have to be careful. You see players from, shall we say, 'inexperienced' nations loading up their plates. They have a great week but don't tend to finish in any of the winning circles. For instance, you never see the New Zealand team near the dessert table.

Q: Do you have a favourite restaurant?

I tend to be a creature of habit and head to The Red Pepper in [nightlife district] Wan Chai. I forget the name but there was another which used to serve as many plates as we wanted of chilli fish and prawns which were as hot as Hades. That's perfect when washed down with plenty of ice-cold beer.