Tuesday 11 December 2018

'I would get a chalet up in the Alps, so when I retire I could do as much skiing as I want'

Take 20: Bill Johnston

Bill Johnston would like to have dinner with Shaquille O'Neal, Conor McGregor and comedian Michael Rapaport
Bill Johnston would like to have dinner with Shaquille O'Neal, Conor McGregor and comedian Michael Rapaport

1. Pre-match meal? Chicken fillets and pasta and some veg. As simple as you can get really. You don't want anything to upset your stomach. I like pancakes or waffles as well.

2. Favourite player growing up?

I definitely admire Jonny Wilkinson for his tenacity in trying to improve every game and never accepting second best. He was a bit of a perfectionist. I definitely took a leaf out of his book in practising really hard.

3. Best away day room-mate and why?

Anyone who doesn't snore, I'm easy but unfortunately a really light sleeper. I get on with anyone really. I have roomed with James Hart a few times this year. He is a really good guy and always wants to pass the ball in the room. Up in Belfast we were passing it for an hour or two before the game.

4. Who would headline your houseparty?

There is an Irish DJ RobbieG and he is excellent. I like to listen to him on match days.

5. First song they would play?

Anything. He is excellent, any of his tracks are really good to get a party going. It's house music, stuff you hear in clubs.

6. You win the Lotto, what's the first thing you would buy?

I see all of my friends skiing at the moment. I would definitely get a chalet up in the Alps, so that when I retire I could do as much skiing as I wanted.

7. Favourite movie?

I really like the new Star Wars movie.

8. Favourite TV show and why?

I just finished 'Stranger Things'. It has a good story and it's creepy too. I didn't sleep well for a week or two while I was watching it. Whenever we get a trip to an away pitch I like to watch a bit of Netflix.

9. Earliest rugby memory growing up?

It was in Clonmel. My dad was coaching my brother's team at U-8 or U-6 level. I remember joining in amongst lads who were bigger than me and trying to tackle and be busy. I loved every minute.

10. Who is the joker in the dressing room?

In my corner Zeebs (Simon Zebo) is always up to something. And in the opposite side of the room Mike Sherry is hilarious.

11. Favourite holiday destination and why?

I was in New York a few summers ago. It was excellent. I just loved all of the sight-seeing and looking at all of the shops.

12. Favourite away ground to play at?

The atmosphere in Kingspan Stadium was my first experience of a real inter-pro derby. It was really intense, the fans were on our backs. But I enjoyed it, I felt the energy coming off the crowd.

13. Three people (dead or alive) who you would invite to your dinner party?

Shaquille O'Neal, Conor McGregor and Michael Rapaport - he's a really funny comedian.

14. Most memorable moment in rugby?

The Junior World Cup, my first year U-20. Although it was short-lived, I played in that match against New Zealand. Just all of the hype and build-up around the games. It was such a pressurised environment.

15. Do you have any pre-match superstitions/rituals?

Before the match I like to get in a nice mental state. I do some meditation and visualisation. That's puts me a good place. I like to get good positive thoughts in my head and use my emotions to help me feel the right way.

16. Who is the best player you have played alongside and why?

As a 10, having a good nine is really important. I have played with Conor Murray and the control he has on the pitch, his kicking and passing abilities are great. He has great anticipation around the goal-line too.

17. Who is the best player you have played against and why?

When I played against New Zealand I played against Jordie Barrett who has been capped by the All Blacks. He is just a special player; tall, athletic, unbelievable skills, great handling and passing.

18. Can you tell us an interesting fact about yourself?

I've booked a holiday to Mauritius. I'm going there in the summer with my girlfriend.

19. Name three things that are always in your fridge?

Maple-cured rashers, milk and some sort of yoghurt.

20. Best advice you ever got?

Invest time in the mental and spiritual side of the game. There are things you can do in terms of goal-setting and prepare yourself for things by using your mind.

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