Brian Dick finds World Cup- winning captain Martin Johnson building a new life in retirement...
Nothing confirmed Martin Johnson's retirement quite like the sight of one of England's hardest men frolicking around a playing field with a bunch of excited school children.
While the rest of his former Leicester Tigers teammates are on an exercise in deepest Scotland leaking blood, sweat and tears as they strive to win back their Premiership title, their erstwhile captain is spending his summer building a life after rugby.
That included yesterday's visit to the University of Warwick's playing fields, in Coventry, where he was present for the launch of his ground-breaking series of rugby camps, designed to improve the fitness and skills of the next generation of Red Rose aspirants.
The former England captain has put his name to a joint initiative with the Rugby Football Union and kick-started thescheme in front of 237 star-struck youngsters, who could barely believe the man they were smiling and joking with was the same Martin Johnson.
The enormous physique, shovel-hands and battle-worn features were all there but the scowl had gone. In its stead was asheepish grin and gentle wit.
"I find myself totally at home here, most of these kids have got the same mentality as your average professional rugby player," he observed during a break in proceedings.
Johnson had just spent about 30 minutes running a drift defence drill, with three attackers on one defender charged with covering an imaginary try-line.
As all good coaches do, he demonstrated the defensive technique first with a couple of rehearsals. Each time, the ball hit the turf. There was no way over, under, round or through the man mountain.
"Don't look at me," he told one child, 3ft nothing in his platform shoes.
"Watch where your teammates are."
"Don't look at me? You're all I can bloody see," the little boy might have justifiably thought to himself. But then, grown men don't often feel the need to back-chat Johnson.
On a sun-drenched afternoon his competitive juices were not flowing. During another breather, he slumped to the ground in mock exhaustion and contemplated the next exercise - tackle bags.
"It's a good drill and even better when you haven't got to make the tackle yourself. I'm glad I'm not doing it."
You, 200-odd youngsters and scores of relieved parents, Johnno.