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“I’ll keep going until the wheels fall off!” Jimmy Gopperth insists he’s not ready to slow down at 39 after making a surprise move to Leicester from Midlands rivals Wasps
- Jimmy Gopperth has no plans to slow down as he approaches 40 next year
- The veteran has moved to Leicester from rivals Wasps this summer
- Gopperth admits his surprise move ‘disappointed a lot of people at Wasps’
Jimmy Gopperth’s new home in Leicester couldn’t be much further from the coast, but the experienced back has revealed that surfing – plus golf – is the key to its excellent longevity.
And as he prepares to continue playing into his fourth decade, Gopperth stated, “Age is just a number. I’ll keep going until the wheels fall off!’ The New Zealand-born fly-half of centre, 39, has had an outstanding career, first in his home country and then in Britain with impressive spells in Newcastle, Leinster and Wasps.
This summer he crossed the gap in the Midlands by swapping Wasps for Premiership champions Leicester and he has no intention of slowing down with the Tigers.
Jimmy Gopperth made a surprising move to Wasps’ Leicester Tigers this summer
“I obviously take good care of myself and I have a good balance between rugby, life and a lot of golf, which keeps my mind at bay,” said Gopperth ahead of Leicester’s clash with Newcastle on Saturday.
“My body still feels very, very good. Surfing is a big one. Because I surfed all the time when I was young, it gave me balance, real core strength and shoulder stability too. ‘Obviously it’s a little harder to find some ocean inland! It’s about two hours 45 to south Wales to get some waves. When I have that, I just train my muscles all around.
“I’ve also invested in a hot tub at home. I like the heat now – I stay away from cold pools now. It’s not good for my old joints! Anything heat related, I’m there all the time.’ Gopperth turns 40 in June. The village of Croyde in Devon, the coast of South Wales or a man-made surf spot in Bristol are the best destinations for him to get his much-needed cold water fix.
Now approaching 500 games in his career, Gopperth’s vast experience has been added to Leicester’s ranks after they captured the Premiership title last season under head coach Steve Borthwick.
The 39-year-old defender insists he is still in excellent shape despite his advanced years
Leicester’s signing of Gopperth from Wasps surprised people, but it’s probably a smart move by Borthwick as he will be available to the Tigers all year round.
“There were a lot of very disappointed people. But to be honest, many wished me the best, which I really appreciated,” Gopperth said of his departure from Wasps.
“When a player leaves a club after seven years, it’s always a sad time. I have relationships with many fans at Wasps.
“In the last ten years you’ve seen a lot of guys go to rival clubs, that’s just the way the professional world is. Everyone respects it, it’s part of the profession we’re in these days.’ Gopperth and Leicester were defeated in Exeter on the opening weekend of the season.
Gopperth believes the move from rivals Wasps to Leicester is part of professional rugby
With Gopperth, Richard Wigglesworth, Chris Ashton and Dan Cole all on his Tigers squad, there is one thing Borthwick doesn’t lack: experience.
The quartet has 148 years between them and all four are still going strong.
Scrum half Wigglesworth, also 39, started last season’s Premiership final victory over Saracens. Wing Ashton, 35, is the Premiership’s top scorer. Cole, 35, excelled in Exeter this past weekend.
“You have to have experience in your team,” said Gopperth.
“When I was a young kid and made my debut in Wellington, I sat on the bench and didn’t start a game in 2003 and 2004. I got some time here and there, but I learned from all the older guys.
“They didn’t even have to come and talk to me. I would just watch them play. If you take all that experience away from your team, who are the young guys supposed to learn from?’