Johnno’s fat jibe spurred me on, says Wales ace Richard Hibbard
SCOTLAND v WALES (Tomorrow, KO 2.30)
AT the time it was a painful slap across his chubby chops but Wales hooker Richard Hibbard has thanked Scotland boss Scott Johnson for spurring him on to lose some pounds by publicly criticising his fitness.
Last year the Australian, while coaching the Ospreys, said that Hibbard had been left out of Warren Gatland’s Six Nations squad because he was overweight.
It led to the 29-year-old front row forward starting a tongue-in-cheek ‘diary of a fat kid’ on Twitter.
Fast forward a year and Hibbard is a lot leaner, one of the form hookers in Europe and Wales’ first choice number 2.
The method of motivation may have been debatable but maybe Johnson had a point.
And there will be no hard feelings when they bump into each other while tucking into their post-match grub.
Hibbard said: “I loved Scott, I always got on well with him… except for that one incident.
“He said it was out of context and I said ‘no, they have quoted you and it was shown on TV’!
“You take it to heart and the banter after it is the worst as the boys will kill you and it is relentless.
“I went in the office to see him and came out confused as he made me feel I was in the wrong!
“I don’t hold it against him, if that was his feeling fair enough, he did what he needed and it got a reaction out of me and it worked.
“It gave me a kick up the backside. I dropped a few kilos and I started doing extras with Adam Jones and working hard, as we both tend to struggle in that area, and it has paid dividends.”
The incident was a minor blip in a good relationship between the pair with Hibbard clearly fond of the outspoken Australian.
“I thought Johnno was great, he could be a riddler in certain aspects but he was really good,” he said.
“It shows as we still won the league last season after he left. A lot of that was down to Sean Holley and Johnno and the momentum they had built early in the season. I will always have a lot of time for them.”
And Hibbard believes the Ospreys core of the Welsh pack will have their former boss sweating. Paul James, Hibbard, Adam Jones, Alun Wyn Jones, Ian Evans and Ryan Jones were all members of his side at the Liberty Stadium.
“It was the pack he built his team around and he knows what that front five can offer and what it has done for him,” said the hooker.
“He knows they need to be on their game but it would be a massive victory for him to get one over on Wales “A few people have said things like he is untested at international level so he has a point to prove, but he is more concerned about taking Scotland forward as he does tend to do for the teams he is with.
“You can see from style of play they are more open. They are scoring tries again, which is good as it makes the tournament more competitive and it should be a very good game.”