Wednesday, July 02, 2008
Byron Kelleher has had a great season for Toulouse and despite their agonising loss to Munster in the Heineken Cup Final, has said that the winning of the Top 14 on the weekend has eased that pain quite significantly.
The former All Black has now revealed that he plans to stay with the champion club for as long as possible, and says hes very much in love with the place and the people.
I am very happy. The World Cup was a big disappointment for me but I came to Toulouse and I have been adopted by the people here, Kelleher said.
The 31-year-old, who was in tears at the end of the win over Clermont, added that he hopes to renegotiate his contract this week to extend his stay in La Ville Rose.
The scrum-half has another 12 months left on his contract but wants to stay on longer at the French giants.
"I'm happy here in France, enjoying my rugby in France. I've started a new life and I feel like I'm 21 again. Here it's a dream come true. To come here and play the European Cup final, and now the final for Top 14, I'm pretty happy about that.
He also added that he still hasnt given up hope of playing for the All Blacks again in the 2011 World Cup, but for now its all about Toulouse and his enjoyment of the French rugby experience.
I didn't think the intensity was here, but now that I have seen it, I can see why the All Blacks can be beaten in the World Cup - because there are such good players here.
"I wanted to come to France because they actually play rugby, not like some northern hemisphere teams where they kick the ball a lot, there is a lot of structure, it's all about pattern.
"When you feel adopted by the people, it's important to make sure they see that you are here playing for the right reasons. I'm very excited, because I feel that in the short time I have been here, I feel really like a Toulouse person now, in my heart."
So, Kelleher is a genuine Toulousian these days, and during their championship winning customary victory parade through the streets of the city, Kelleher decided to whip off his shirt and give a little something from his culture back to the French fans who have given so much of theirs to him.
Intense while in some ways humorous, this clip makes us wonder if someone forgot to tell Byron that scrumhalfs are meant to be scrawny little guys.