4/9/2011

Edmonds last laugh


If you are missing something that you swear was left on a table, on a seat or in a corner at the Brumbies Rugby Training Centre, there’s a pretty good chance practical joker Huia Edmonds knows exactly where it is.

Edmonds is the Kingpin in a league of practical jokers, which also includes names like Matt Giteau, Ben Alexander, Julian Salvi, Peter Kimlin and Adam Ashley-Cooper.

Swapping chocolate sauce for barbeque sauce, an unauthorised Facebook status update, glad-wrapping a doorway or hiding an unsuspecting victim’s much-loved belongings are part of every day life for Edmonds and his band of gag-loving bandits.

Edmonds’ bets are always paid in small change – a joke Salvi was on the end of earlier in the week, when he was paid $190 in 5c pieces.

What is plainly obvious is that Edmonds must have grafted the talent to pester from someone in his family as a young lad. The brother of former Wallaby Manny Edmonds, Huia’s ability to get under the skin of his victims is far too great for any other explanation to stand up.

“Manny and I used to stir each other up a fair bit as kids, he used to give it to me and I guess that’s where I learned the dark art of being a massive pest,” Edmonds said with a laugh.

“But it was good having a brother to muck up with and play footy with in the back yard. That’s where we first really played footy, against each other and we have both been able to make a career out of it so the pestering can’t have done any harm.

“We grew up across the road from the oval in Rivett and any given afternoon there’d be 15 kids out there playing rugby league, soccer or rugby union and just belting each other.

“We were always in the thick of it. Those early days of Manny and I playing footy together are very good memories. I can’t really remember any of the other kids that were out there playing, but I’d like to think they can remember us.”

Since growing up physically from the days of back-yard footy, the Edmonds brothers have also done some growing up professionally. Manny left Australia in 2002 for France where he played for Perpignan and Bayonne.

Prior to that Manny played the bulk of his rugby with the Waratahs and the Wallabies, while Huia made his way as an aged-grade Australian representative.

The 837th player to be Capped as an Australian Wallaby, Edmonds made his debut against Fiji at Canberra Stadium in June 2010, then went on to claim another three Caps and a Test try against Wales later that year.

Should he play every game up until the Stormers in Week 15, Edmonds will claim his 50th Super Rugby Cap, having previously played for the Cape Town based side and the NSW Waratahs along the way.

But it was in Canberra, his home town, where Edmonds has found his top gear. The fleet-footed, chip kicking hooker has fostered a growing reputation that he is a fly half in disguise, making breaks and creating havoc with clever kicks and dummy passes to slip behind enemy lines.

“I’ll never forget that I’m a hooker and a front-rower – I love the tough stuff and scrummaging is a big part of my game,” Edmonds said.

“But being an impact player and making the most of my appearances from the bench, it helps to bring another element to my game to be able to keep opposing teams guessing what I’m going to do.

“I try to play away from that one-dimensional, traditional sort of hooking role. It makes the game much more interesting and it’s where I feel like I make the most impact.”

Every now and then, the worm turns and the joke is on Edmonds. As recently as last week, his diary was confiscated by a scorned member of the CA Technologies Brumbies front row, and not returned until a certain level of pleading had taken place.

And while not having his diary for three hours was nothing short of an inconvenience, Edmonds reckons it’s all worth it to have the chance to seek revenge and ruin someone’s afternoon.

“It’s all just a bit of fun really, no one ever gets hurt in the long run,” Edmonds said.

“They all do their best to get me back but that’s a pretty hard assignment, I am the master of practical jokes on this team.”