Article by Ben Kayser

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Phil B
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Article by Ben Kayser

Post by Phil B » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:06 pm

I can’t be 55 wondering why my foot is numb and my fingers are twitching’
Former Leicester Tiger Benjamin Kayser tells Ben Coles he can retire with a Top 14 title today


Looking back: Benjamin Kayser, now at Clermont, spent two years at Leicester

Today’s Top 14 final at Stade de France is the last time Benjamin Kayser will step onto a rugby field. The former Leicester hooker is bowing out after 15 years as a professional and 37 caps for France, cutting short his plans to play for a further season for Clermont Auvergne due to a neck issue.
“I still can’t really get my head around it, but this is my last week as a professional,” he admits. “It is going to hit me hard I reckon in a few weeks’ time.”
The prospect of a third potential operation on the discs in his neck was enough for the 34-year-old to realise his time was up.
“I have two young girls. At 55 I want to be playing tennis and sprinting everywhere, not wondering why my foot is numb and my fingers are twitching.”
Kayser is at least fortunate enough to have the chance to bow out on top by starting in the Top 14 final against Toulouse, which seemed unlikely in February, having been warned by his surgeon that one more “stinger” injury to his neck would mean the end of his career. He then left the field in April’s Challenge Cup semi-final against Harlequins with that exact injury. “I went into the changing room on my own and completely cracked,” he says.
Fortunately the stinger was related to pressure on his shoulder, rather than Kayser’s neck, and he has gone on to play a pivotal role in Clermont’s Challenge Cup title win in Newcastle and now their Top 14 play-off run, starting in last week’s semi-final.
It has been a decade since Kayser left Leicester, having arrived as a 22-year-old during the mid-2000s wave of imports from the Top 14 to the Premiership. The move was initiated by his Stade Francais team-mate Agustin Pichot, now World Rugby’s vice-chairman.
“We faced Leicester in the quarter-finals at a packed Welford Road, the sun was out, it was beautiful. That amazing stadium against a wonderful team. It was the game where Juan Martin Hernandez smashed Alesana Tuilagi into touch. I knew then it was a special place,” Kayser recalls.
“Leicester were far more professional than Stade were at the time, with their training ground and preparations and facilities.
“I was on the bus, sat next to Agustin Pichot, who was speaking to Leicester trying to help his mate Hernandez with a possible move there. He asked what I was doing about re-signing with Stade and suggested me moving to Leicester. He sent a text and had an answer back from the club saying yes, let’s talk about it. And that’s how it happened. The week after Richard Cockerill called me and knew everything about my life, everything about me. I knew they meant business. I loved every second of my time there.”

Which is why watching Leicester’s struggles from afar has been a painful experience, particularly as Kayser remains good friends with Geordan Murphy, the head coach.
“When you see the core of the club leaving, guys like Ed Slater no longer there, you know something is wrong. It makes me very sad. I watched a couple of games, I could not believe they were fighting relegation.
“How could it possibly get to that point? When you look at the line-up, it’s an amazing team. Leicester are a fantastic club, but they need a good look in the mirror and to change things within. They have great players and a great coach in Geordie. But they need to work out what the new era is going to be.”

Kayser admits he left Leicester a year earlier than he should have, going on to bounce around Stade Francais for a second time and then Castres before making Clermont his home for the past eight years.
For so long Clermont were French rugby’s bridesmaids, losing 10 straight Top 14 finals. Not anymore. There is no curse, according to Kayser. And anyone who suggests otherwise does not appreciate the talent and mindset of the current side.
“When we won the title in 2017, I could feel that French rugby was happy for us. ‘Poor :censored:, they deserve a bit of silverware’. This year, they all want us to die, because we have been smashing everyone,” he laughs.
“People hating us more means we are winning more, and that might be a good sign.” We will find out today, as Kayser goes in search of the perfect ending.
I could agree with you...but then we'd both be wrong.

sam16111986
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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by sam16111986 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:56 pm

Was a great player whilst he was here and I'd have happily seen him play that extra season in green, red and white. Hope he takes one more title today and retires on a high. Always comes across really well in interviews and wouldn't be surprised if either coaching or punditry follows for next season.

kpj tiger
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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by kpj tiger » Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:18 pm

sam16111986 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:56 pm
Was a great player whilst he was here and I'd have happily seen him play that extra season in green, red and white. Hope he takes one more title today and retires on a high. Always comes across really well in interviews and wouldn't be surprised if either coaching or punditry follows for next season.
BBC or ITV would be stupid to not pick him up to be the French pundit during the 6N, he seems very knowledgeable about the game in general and his English is great

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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by sam16111986 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 2:49 pm

kpj tiger wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 1:18 pm
sam16111986 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 12:56 pm
Was a great player whilst he was here and I'd have happily seen him play that extra season in green, red and white. Hope he takes one more title today and retires on a high. Always comes across really well in interviews and wouldn't be surprised if either coaching or punditry follows for next season.
BBC or ITV would be stupid to not pick him up to be the French pundit during the 6N, he seems very knowledgeable about the game in general and his English is great
Agreed. French POV for the BT European coverage as well.

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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by Dangerous4 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 3:59 pm

Yup, Ben was pretty much a God when he was here. Everything about him was sheer class.

Good luck Ben, and happy memories. :smt023

teds
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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by teds » Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:38 pm

Also he highlights Slater leaving as a clear sign things aren’t right. Which coach pushed Slater out?

JP14
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Re: Article by Ben Kayser

Post by JP14 » Mon Jun 17, 2019 3:21 pm

teds wrote:
Mon Jun 17, 2019 12:38 pm
Also he highlights Slater leaving as a clear sign things aren’t right. Which coach pushed Slater out?
O’Connor.
"Our Greatest Glory Is Not In Never Failing, But In Rising Every Time We Fall" Confucius

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