Hayman wildcard player in Brisbane Tens
Carl Hayman announced as wildcard player in star-studded Pau Brisbane Tens squad
Carl Hayman will come out of ‘semi’ retirement to play for French Top 14 club Pau at the Brisbane Global Rugby Tens in February.
Rated one of the finest props ever to pull on an All Blacks jersey, the 45-test veteran was at one point reportedly the highest paid rugby player in the world.
That was during his days in the upper echelons of European rugby with Newcastle Falcons and Toulon.
Having retired in 2015, Hayman made a comeback mid-way through last year for French fifth division amateur club Bizanos.
“It will be pretty interesting to see how a 38-year-old goes against all these Super Rugby boys,” Hayman said from Pau, a small town nestled at the foot of the Pyrenees.
“The boss asked me if I’d be keen to have a run and I thought ‘why not’? It’ll be nice to chuck the boots on and get out there and run around.”
Pau coach Simon Mannix said he approached Hayman – the club’s forwards coach - about playing when he learned Carlos Spencer had signed on as wildcard for the tournament for the Blues.
“He is in great form physically,” Mannix said. “He works hard in the gym, as he always did during his career. I suggested it to him when I saw Carlos Spencer’s name on the list. I asked Carl if he wanted to have a gallop and he was very happy to. It’s exciting.
“Carl was lost to the Southern Hemisphere in 2007. Ten years later he is back up against some young New Zealand fellas who would only know the name.”
Hayman’s reputation, though, most certainly precedes him. When he turns out for Bizanos he cops the “odd stray elbow” from the local club rugby hard cases he comes up against.
“It’s generally been pretty light-hearted sort of stuff,” he said. “When I finished playing I had a few injury issues. I had a couple of years of not playing, a bit of work in the gym and I started feeling pretty decent. I thought I’d get down to a local club.
“It’s been really refreshing actually, to get back to where it all started. We all start in club rugby. Some of us are really lucky to have professional careers and experience a lot of great things. But there’s a real joy in getting back to where it all started.
“She’s really back to basics. We trained last night in the rain and the mud. I came home covered in mud. There aren’t many occasions in the professional game these days where you come home covered in mud!”
While Hayman is turning out “for the love of the game”, there is little doubt the 1.94m, 120kg giant will add some serious punch to a Pau side already boasting the star power of Conrad Smith, Ben Mowen, Jamie Mackintosh, Colin Slade, Tom Taylor, Benson Stanley and Frank Halai.
“A lot of the guys are really excited about getting back and playing against Super Rugby teams. When you come up to Europe there is a big question about European rugby. There is always that North-South hemisphere debate. Our guys are very keen to get down there and prove they have still got it, they can still foot it with the Super Rugby guys.”
Much like Hayman himself.
“I am going to enjoy getting back out there, getting back into playing with players at that level,” he said.
“I’ve been putting the training in and keeping in reasonable nick as I know it is going to be pretty fast,” Hayman said. “I played in the Hong Kong Tens a year ago so I know that Tens is an exciting brand of rugby, definitely very fast.
“It’s great for our club to coming to a tournament like this.”
The social element of the tournament was also a major attraction, Hayman said.
“Everyone is competitive and gets stuck into the games but there is also a side of rugby where you are catching up with old friends and making new friends. That’s the great thing about rugby. I was talking to [Highlanders coach] Aaron Mauger a couple of days ago and he said ‘we’ll have to catch up over there for a bit of yarn and a strum on the guitar’.”
With the weather in France currently wet and cold, Hayman had one request for tournament organisers ahead of what will be a sizzling two days in Brisbane. “Bring lots of ice!”
The 2018 Brisbane Global Rugby Tens takes place on Friday February 9 and Saturday February 10 at Suncorp Stadium.
The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens is supported by the Queensland Government through Tourism and Events Queensland and Brisbane City Council through Brisbane Marketing.
Place of birth: Opunake, New Zealand
All Blacks: 45 tests
Highlanders: 81 matches
Newcastle: 64 matches
Toulon: 145 matches
Section Paloise Brisbane Global Rugby Tens squad
Conrad Smith, Colin Slade, Ben Mowen, Steffon Armitage, Thomas Taylor, Lourens Adriaanse, Frank Halai, Jamie Mackintosh, Ignacio Calles, Lucas Rey Quentin Lespiauq, Jeremy Hurou, Daniel Ramsay, Giovanni Habel Kuffner, Pierrick Gunther, Baptiste Pesenti, Martin Puech, Thibault Daubagna, Clovis Lebail, Bastien Pourailly, Brandon Fajardo, Mathias Colombet, Watisoni Votu, Florian Nicot, Carl Hayman (wildcard)