Eorl Crabtree: Micky Rourke and winding up Danny Brough

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What is the worst physical pain you’ve experienced?
I went to Australia when I was 18 and got bitten by an insect. I got cellulitis in my leg and got a massive abscess. I had it operated on and had a big hole in my leg basically. I had to have it packed every single day with cotton wool to soak up all the nastiness. It was an open wound and the pain was intense. I still think about it now.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Don’t take life too seriously – you’re here once and you shouldn’t get caught up in it all. There’s more to life than rugby and I’ve learned to enjoy myself and not just think about rugby. As soon as I started doing that I started playing better and enjoying the game more.

What year would you go to in a time machine?
I would have liked to have met my granddad – he was a rugby player too. He played for Halifax and won a Challenge Cup final medal in 1931. He didn’t make it off the bench that day but I would have loved to seen him play and to see what he looked like – his physique especially. I would like to see the game back then, too, with 100,000 people watching.
If it was back over my lifetime I would go to 2001 when I was playing centre, that year of my career was the best I’ve had. We were in the National League and won every game apart from one that we drew with Whitehaven. We just had a laugh, we had a great time.

What is your greatest fear?
I’m not really scared of anything. My only fear, like most Rugby League players, is knowing exactly what you’re going to do once you retire. I genuinely don’t know what I’m going to do – there’s nothing in place and it isn’t an easy transition. I’m excited to finish, but it’s still a scary prospect.
I have nothing lined up and I’ve got a mortgage to pay. I know when I get to the end of my career there will be things in place, but it’s still scary when it isn’t there. It’s really difficult because I don’t know when I’m going to finish. How do I prepare for something when I don’t know when it’s going to happen?
I haven’t got degrees and things like that, and I’m not sure what my natural path is. I’d like to think I’ll be working for Huddersfield either way but it’s hardly set in stone.

What is your most treasured possession?
This is going to sound really random, and my missus is going to hate this – I’m not even allowed it up on the wall in my new house – but it’s a poster of Mickey Rourke. I have it all framed and it’s massive. It’s signed and it says:

“To Eorl,
Keep it hard, big man.
Mickey Rourke.”

I absolutely love it, it’s my favourite thing. Weirdly I didn’t actually meet him, it was through Keith Mason who became friends with him and was looking at doing the film about Gareth Thomas. He was looking at a video of us and he noticed me with my hair. He said I looked like him in ‘The Wrestler’ and the poster is of him from that film. He’s just stood there with his long blonde hair. I was absolutely made up.

What is your best quality?
I would probably say it is my worst quality as well – I’m too laid back. A lot of the time I don’t care about certain things. Take rugby for example, because I’ve been doing it so long I don’t get nervous anymore and can get a bit blasé. I think that’s probably my best quality as it keeps me composed but at the same time it can make it hard for me to get myself right up for a game. I think I have found the right balance now, though.

What is your idea of the perfect day?
My perfect day is a Sunday, without rugby. Get up in the morning, go clay pigeon shooting with my mates – I’ve got to win! – then come back, go to the pub and have something nice to eat and a couple of drinks, come back and just relax in front of the fire.

Who is your best friend in Rugby League?
I can’t just say one, I have two – Andy Raleigh and Paul Jackson. They’re two lads I’ve played a lot with and they’ll be two of my best mates for the rest of my life. I have a lot of time for them.

Who is the joker in the Giants dressing room?
The two players that make me laugh most are Luke Robinson and Danny Brough. With Luke it’s just the way he talks as much as anything else. He’s hilarious and ruthless – he goes jugular as soon as someone takes the mick out of him or tries to get one over on him.
With Danny, he’s not trying to be funny it’s just the way he is – the way he kicks off all the time. He’s the ultimate sportsman. He wants to win everything and he goes mad all the time. It’s because he wants to win and I love it when he starts kicking off. When you tell him to calm down you know he’s getting more wound up, it’s very funny.

Who is the worst-dressed player in the game?
Brett Hodgson was a classic when he first came over. He wore everything Lonsdale and thought he was cool as anything as apparently it’s expensive over in Australia. When he saw it selling so cheap over here he thought he was in heaven!

What’s your most embarrassing moment?
I’ve had a few. One that stands out is from one of my testimonial events – I had to get up and sing for an event called RL Factor. I had to go out on stage and sing ‘Hi Ho Silver Lining’ by Jeff Beck in front of 500 people. I don’t sing and I don’t do karaoke so I’m terrible. I had to sing the whole song, it was awful.

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