Somerville adjusts to life as a Rebel
July 29, 2010
Somerville has swapped the Cherry and Whites for the Melbourne Rebels at the end of last season © Getty Images
Greg Somerville insists he has no regrets about turning down a return to the Crusaders in favour of a move to expansion side the Melbourne Rebels.
Somerville, the most capped All Blacks prop until Tony Woodcock equals his 66-Test record against the Wallabies at Etihad Stadium, opted for a move to Australia earlier this year despite the efforts of Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder to persuade him to bolster that side's already All Blacks-laden propping stocks.
"It was really heart-wrenching not to go back there. They were really positive about me being part of it again," Somerville said. "But I wanted to challenge myself in a new way and not try and find what I had before."
The 32-year-old resisted Super Rugby's most successful franchise for the work-in-progress Rebels. He started his promotional duties today and relocates permanently before pre-season training starts on October 1. "It's going to be a heck of a challenge bringing the team together, bonding and then get everyone playing at a level you'll need to be competitive."
Might it not have been more enticing to make a third and final tilt at the Rugby World Cup considering the disappointments of 2003 and 2007? "There were a few long nights thinking about it but to hinge everything on that after being to two, putting everything into them and it not working out ... I didn't want to hang my hat on the whole thing," he said.
Somerville's Test career started in 2000 and ended on a winning note in Hong Kong in 2008 when the Bledisloe Cup had already been retained, the Tri-Nations won and in May that year the Crusaders farewelled him and coach Robbie Deans with another Super 14 title. "I felt I managed to leave it on a really good note. Going back might have been taking a step back," he said.
Also there was also no guarantee of a starting role for the 32-year-old at the Crusaders, never mind an All Blacks recall, given the presence of the Franks brothers and Wyatt Crockett. Somerville took particular satisfaction from Owen and Ben Franks establishing themselves in the All Blacks.
"They're playing exceptionally well, it's great to see. I've had a lot to do with Ben and Owen in my time at the Crusaders. I know the work ethic and time they've put in to becoming All Blacks over the last few years, it's great to see it paying off."
Somerville was also encouraged by what he's seen of the All Blacks so far in 2010, particularly the back-to-back Tri-Nations wins over South Africa.
"To see the way they've played in the last couple of weeks has been great to watch," he said, before admitting it also made uncomfortable viewing. Something definitely still stirs when the boys run out. There's still a part of me that would love to be an All Black. The satisfaction they get from being out there and winning and representing your country is huge. You can't lose that in a hurry."