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Sixty Seconds with Brian McFadden

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The Boyzlife singer on turning 40 online, missing his golf and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

You and your Boyzlife bandmate Keith Duffy used to be in rival bands!

Westlife used to be Boyzone’s support act and Keith and I have been friends ever since so when we teamed up to form Boyzlife it wasn’t that strange. I’d been a solo artist for 12 years and it gets quite lonely being on your own so to be sharing the stage with somebody else again was exciting.

What was it like working with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra on your new album, Strings Attached?

It was something I’ve always wanted to do but it used to be so expensive. I remember getting a ten-piece string section on a track on one of my solo albums and it cost ten grand! To have an orchestra do an album would have cost you nearly £300,000 so it was never something that was feasible. Things have changed. It’s a lot cheaper now and, luckily, we have friends who work with the Royal Philharmonic.

What made you donate the profits from your single You Needed Me to Age UK?

They contacted us to see if we could help them during the pandemic. It’s an important charity and a lot of our fans are elderly.

Boyzone star: Keith Duffy with McFadden

How did you celebrate your 40th during lockdown?

I had a long, boozy Zoom party with all my friends in Dublin and England. I actually started the night before because I lived in Australia for seven years and I’ve got friends there. That went on to 4am, then I went to bed and got up and the call started at 11am, so it was almost a 48-hour session!

What were you drinking?

I’d bought some vodka but you know you’ve been in lockdown a long time when you start to get to the rubbish drinks that never get drunk. You go into your drinks cabinet and there’s stuff that’s never been touched… the peach schnapps and amaretto.

How have you been keeping in touch with your daughters, Lilly, 17, and Molly, 18?

Online. I live in Rochdale and both my daughters are at their mother’s [ex-wife Kerry Katona]. Lilly was in college so she finished and Molly was on school holidays at the time. She lives with my mum and dad in Dublin but she’d gone home to England to see her mum and then they did the lockdown in Ireland so she couldn’t go back.

What have you been missing the most about normal life?

The hard part for me was not being able to play golf. I didn’t miss pubs or restaurants. I’m enjoying being home with my girlfriend Danielle. Keith and I spend all year on the road so to be home and settled has been brilliant.

Congratulations on your engagement! Are the wedding plans on hold?

It’s a shame we didn’t get married just before the lockdown. It would have been perfect — we could have had a seven-week honeymoon at home! We decided we were going to get married next summer but four of our friends have now all moved their weddings to next year so it might be too busy. We’re going to wait and see what happens after lockdown.

Ex-wife: Kerry Katona PICTURES: REX

Are you managing to stay in shape?

The hardest part is drinking — that’s got the most calories. But Danielle is a very healthy eater so we don’t have crisps and chocolate in the house. If I can keep my diet under control then I won’t be too fat by the time I get out again!

How did you feel about turning 40?

I’ve been living like a 40-year-old for the past five years! Going out on Saturday night is now going out for dinner with other couples. In the old days I wouldn’t go out until 10pm. I’d get the last orders at the bar and then be in a nightclub until 5am. I haven’t done that in years. I’m now very civilised.

Could you ever be as big as you were in the 1990s?

We’re two men in their forties so it’s a different vibe. We’re not going to have 500 kids chasing our car down the street. I’m too old for that now — I wouldn’t be able to outrun them, either.

Will you ever perform with Westlife again?

Maybe in 20 years’ time when we’re all old — I can’t see it happening any time soon. I was only in the band for six years. They became a new Westlife after I left and I’ve been doing other things for 16 years. We’ve forged our own paths and we’ll probably stick to them.

What’s on your bucket list?

I had a massive bucket list for my 40th year. However, the only one I got to do was the Six Nations rugby at Twickenham in February — but Ireland got absolutely hammered by England. I should have known then that something bad was going to happen!

Boyzlife’s debut album, Strings Attached, is out on July 17. Tickets for the second leg of their UK tour are on sale now



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Six Nations Rugby

In Pictures: The greatest rugby XV of all-time picked by fans

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REVEALED: The greatest ever XV in the history of rugby… and there’s no room for Carter, O’Connell and Parisse.

15. Serge Blanco (France) 

The French icon’s international career with France saw the flamboyant fullback perform various outlandish levels of skill while winning Five Nation Grand Slams in 1981 and 1987 as well as four further titles.

Blanco was a threat from everywhere on the field and often took risks that we very rarely see nowadays. In total, he won 93 caps for France during his 11-year international career between 1980 and 1991, which was a record when he retired.

He also scored an imposing 233 points and is a true legend of the sport.

Did you know: Images of Blanco’s on-field heroics can always be viewed ironically alongside images of him strutting along the touchline nursing a cigarette.
Honourable mentions: JPR Williams (Wales), Jason Robinson (England), Percy Montgomery (South Africa)

14. Jonah Lomu (New Zealand)

The New Zealander remains the joint all-time top try scorer at the Rugby World Cup along with Bryan Habana, crossing the whitewash on 15 different occasions across the 1995 and 1999 tournaments. The easiest selection in a greatest ever XV.

Originally of Tongan descent, it was Lomu who made it glamorous to be a big, bruising winger, even though his stature could have easily seen him fill in at centre or somewhere in the pack.

Much like the Juggernaut of the Marvel Universe, there wasn’t much that could stop Lomu once he’d gotten into a stride.

Did you know: In September 2009, Lomu took part in an amateur bodybuilding contest, finishing second in two categories
Honourable mentions: Bryan Habana (South Africa), Doug Howlett (New Zealand), Shane Williams (Wales)

13. Brian O’Driscoll (Ireland) 

The former Ireland and British and Irish Lions Skipper Brian O’Driscoll was one of the most consistent performers in the world for over a decade.

He hung up his boots in 2014 after accumulating 133 caps for Ireland with a fantastic return of 245 points. In the emerald green, he triumphed in the Six Nations in 2009 (Grand Slam) and 2014 as well as being chosen as Player of the Tournament in 2006, 2007 and 2009.

The Dublin-born is also the highest all-time Irish record try scorer with an incredible 46 scores, and also led his country more times than any other player.

Did you know: O’Driscoll was chosen as Player of the Tournament in the 2006, 2007 and 2009 RBS Six Nations Championships.
Honourable mentions: Jeremy Guscott (England), Will Greenwood (England), Frank Bunce (New Zealand)

12. Tim Horan (Australia) 

Only a handful of players has won the Rugby World Cup Twice and power-packed runner Tim Horan is one of them, triumphing in 1991 and 1999 with Australia.

He made his international debut in 1989 against the All Blacks and would go on to make 80 caps, scoring 30 tries, in an impressive 11-year career.

Did you know: Horan’s father is Mike Horan, the former National Party and Liberal National Party Member of Parliament for the Queensland electorate of Toowoomba South.
Honourable mentions: Phillipe Sella (France), Sonny Bill Williams (New Zealand), Brian Lima (Samoa)

11. David Campese (Australia) 

Capped by Australia on more than 100 occasions and scorer of 64 international tries, David Campese was once the world’s top scorer, but now has to settle for the honour of second place.

To summarise, if there was even the slightest bit of daylight between the try-line and his opposite man, Campese was as good as over.

Whether it was by use of his patented “goose-step” or with use of the more archaic barrelling motion, the Wallabies legend was simply a magnet for scoring.

Beginning his international career at just 19 years of age, it was clear early on that Australia had a special talent on their hands, and the early start allowed Campese to repay his selectors massively down the years.

Did you know: Campese was also a renowned rugby sevens player. He made 12 appearances at the Hong Kong Sevens (1983-1990, 1993–94, 97-98), during which he played in three victorious Australian campaigns (’83, ’85 & ’88)

CONTINUES ON PAGE TWO




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Six Nations Rugby | France claim Olympic silver as GB finish fourth at Tokyo 2020

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Les Bleues came out on top when the two teams went head-to-head in the semi-final, securing their place in the gold-medal match with a hard-fought 26-19 triumph.

Great Britain faced Fiji in the bronze-medal match and despite two tries from Meg Jones, they ultimately lost 21-12 to finish the tournament in fourth place.

Meanwhile, France faced the formidable Black Ferns for the gold medal and the pre-tournament favourites lived up to their billing with a 26-12 victory.

Speaking after emulating Great Britain’s fourth-place finish at Rio 2016, Wales winger Jasmine Joyce was disappointed to miss out on a medal but admitted she couldn’t be prouder of what the team achieved.

Jasmine Joyce

“You can probably tell by all our faces we are absolutely gutted,” said Joyce.

“As a squad, we’re Team GB, we are three different nations, and we have only been together for four or five months. Six months ago, none of us had anything – we didn’t have jobs, nothing.

“So to come out here, come fourth and push New Zealand right to the end, beat the USA in the quarter-finals and, unfortunately, lose to Fiji – who are a very good side – I can’t be prouder.

“We’ve definitely put our programme in a better place. We can call ourselves Olympians.”

France had been unbeaten on their march to the semi-final clash with Great Britain, beating Fiji, Brazil, Canada and China to put themselves in prime position for a medal.

Great Britain beat the Russian Olympic Committee and pushed New Zealand all the way in a thrilling 26-21 defeat before wins over Kenya and USA put them in the last four.

In the semi-final showdown, France raced into an early 14-point lead thanks to converted tries from Anne-Cecile Ciofani and Seraphine Okemba.

But Great Britain soon responded as Joyce claimed her sixth try of the tournament and Holly Aitchison added the extras to cut the deficit to seven with just six minutes played.

Coralie Bertrand claimed a third French touchdown before the break but Joyce then sprinted clear for her second try of the match, making it 21-12 at the half-time interval.

Ciofani scored a second after the restart and while Scotland’s Hannah Smith crossed for a try converted by England’s Natasha Hunt, France were able to hold on for victory.

Great Britain found themselves trailing 14-0 again in the bronze-medal match with Fiji and though Jones crossed twice, it was not enough to secure her side a place on the podium.

France then went down 26-12 to the Black Ferns, who avenged their defeat to Australia in the Olympic final five years ago to become champions at Tokyo 2020.

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The rise of Jack Conan to a Test Lion

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The rise of Jack Conan is one of the great stories to emerge from the Lions. Called into the Irish Six Nations squad for the suspended Peter O’Mahony, he subsequently made his first appearance for Ireland since the 2019 RWC. Many had ruled the 29-year-old out, with the emergence of Caelan Doris at Leinster signifying a potential changing of the guard. The future looked bright for Doris for both Leinster and Ireland. Yet, as we all know, injuries in sport offer opportunities. This opportunity Conan took with both hands, as he put in an incredible final performance against England, setting up a try and scoring another. In turn, he booked his place on the plane to South Africa. We all thought it would stop there but now he isn’t just a Lion. He is a Test Lion.

Early Career

Jack Conan like all young Leinster number 8s had the title of ‘the next Jamie Heaslip.’ Playing Irish U20s in 2012 with fellow Lions Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, and Tadhg Beirne, it was a new generation of young Irish talent. Conan had to remain patient for his Leinster debut mainly because of the competition in the back row as Jamie Heaslip had no thoughts of hanging up the boots just yet. His debut came in February 2014 against the Cardiff Blues with his international debut coming away in the 2014 Six Nations. The early career-defining moment came in January 2015 with a man of the match performance against Ulster. In the game he carried 40 metres, something that would be repeated on the biggest stage in a red jersey.

International Career

As the 2015 Six Nations approached, Conan had caught the eye of Joe Schmidt. The steady rise, however, didn’t all go to plan. Conan didn’t play in that Six Nations and despite making his debut in a 2015 RWC warm-up game against Scotland he failed to make the World Cup squad. Injuries, the emergence of new talent, and a lack of form meant Conan’s Irish dream was fading away.

Although a golden opportunity arose due to the 2017 Lions Tour. The likes of CJ Stander and co were away on Lions duty providing space in the national side for the 2017 Ireland Tour to USA and Japan. A few impressive outings once again showed Jack Conan is a man who takes every opportunity that comes his way. When the 2019 RWC came round, he made sure this time he was on the plane. This time he played a key role in the Ireland back row, far from being someone who was in Japan to make up the numbers. As the rise of Jack Conan continued.

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British and Irish Lions

For people who haven’t followed Jack Conan’s career, his recent performances for the Lions may have come as a surprise. For those who know him, however, they have been merely a given. Conan is a skilful number 8 who uses his footwork to gain extra post-contact metres, as well as being a fast and elusive player, exactly what was required to challenge South Africa in the wider channels. Completely different to what Joe Schmidt and Andy Farrell went for with CJ Stander at number 8 (Who is very direct!). Conan stuck to his values as a player and didn’t change his unique style of play. The rise of Jack Conan, therefore, did stall but it certainly didn’t stop.

Despite only earning 17 caps for Ireland, he is now set for a second Lions Test cap and was one of the standout performers in the first Test. On tour, he has made 59 carries, 16 more than the next best (Duhan van der Merwe with 43). He also has made the most post-contact metres of any forward with 136. In the first Test, he made 48 metres from 12 carries. It is also the most metres made by a Lion forward in a Test since 2009. Guess who had that record? Jamie Heaslip. Sport can be funny sometimes.

A famous boxing analogy is that styles make fights. For rugby it is the same. The style required to beat the Springbok is a number 8 who isn’t just a direct bruiser. Conan has found his style hasn’t suited Ireland in the past yet it is the style vital in order for success on the 2021 Lions Tour. Although he might not go down as an Irish legend, his Lions legacy will certainly live on.

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