Nick Cummins was awarded the Australian Rugby Union Players Association Medal for Excellence last week.
Cummins was chosen by his fellow players over stellar performers like Israel Folau and Michael Hooper, and now he can add a second gong to his trophy cabinet, as B/R bestows the honour of Rugby’s Most Entertaining Man upon his famous mane.
We’ve looked beyond on-field exploits for this award. Rugby’s Most Entertaining Man must bring a certain "joie de vivre" to his play, of course, but his persona must match his play.
He must be a one-off, a "character" amid the professional era’s gym-bred automatons.
He must stand out as an individual among the monosyllabic world of media-trained sportsmen.
And so, from his play on the field to his persona off it, Cummins fits the bill.
Cummins was excellent in a losing effort for the Wallabies against England this autumn. His late break might even have stolen the victory had it not been for a fine covering tackle by Mike Brown.
He backed that up with one assist and two scores in the rout of Italy and a try in a fine win over Ireland.
It all made him one of the most dangerous wings on the planet in the latter part of 2013.
Cummins runs and tackles like a Samoan.
He is a fairly big winger at more than 15st, but he can put it all to use in a well-timed hit, with or without the ball.
In the clip above, he almost levels the defender in front of him. Then, he lines his man up beautifully for a monster tackle.
We all love a big hit, and Cummins can deliver them in style.
As well as his role as try-scoring wing, Cummins appears to be a dab hand behind the interviewer’s microphone.
Following Australia’s win over Wales in Cardiff, he roamed the Wallaby dressing room quizzing his team-mates about their thoughts on the win and the whole autumn tour.
Behind-the-scenes stuff helps humanise players shielded largely from public interaction these days, and Cummins delivers it in an entertaining style.
Cummins can create tries, as well as score them. Check this steaming break he made for the Western Force in the 2013 Super Rugby tournament.
Not only does he take an excellent line, but he then delivers a deft back-handed pass to put young centre Junior Rasolea away.
Cummins is a gifted footballer.
After scoring the winning try against England in 2012, Cummins was little known to the English rugby public.
So, Ian Chadband of the Telegraph enlightened us with this interview in which Cummins declared his admiration for the crazed African mammal.
“The honey badger travels 40 kilometres a day and is one of the most fearless and fiercest animals in the world. So, that’s something for me to aspire to.”
With that, the nickname of the Honey Badger was born.
In the same interview with Chadband, Cummins revealed more than just his love for the Honey Badger.
He only really earned a spot on the Wallaby squad that year because of injuries to others, and he readily admitted that, but he also gave off a wonderful, schoolboy-like love for the game.
“How bloody good, eh? Bloody eighty-one thousand three hundred and sixty one out there. Mate, I need a bloody eardrum replacement after that! Everyone singing and carrying on. Yeah, really enjoyed it.”
Cummins looks like a throwback to the great backs of the 1970s.
His flowing, seemingly unkempt locks trail behind him at full tilt in the style of David Duckham and JPR Williams.
For Cummins, they form part of his identity as a genuine individual.
When allied to a head band, as they were during the autumn, Cummins is about as retro a rugby player as they come.
Fans of the Honey Badger have lovingly collated Cummins' best quotes and YouTube Videos where you can enjoy all his greatest one-liners in one place.
The top three quotes:
- "You get one opportunity. You balls it up and you are in strife."
- “If you wanna make God laugh, you tell him your plans.”
- “I'd be 37 or something for the next one (Lions tour), and I'd need four facelifts and a bum tuck to be a shot.”
It is obviously a serious issue when professional sportsmen slack off when they shouldn’t and go for a few beers.
Cummins was one of those who found themselves in strife for doing that in the week before the Wallabies’ test in Ireland this autumn.
But it was at least proof Cummins is a decent bloke to share a beer with, which is surely, even in this modern era of sports science and the importance of nutrition, still a prerequisite for any holder of the title of Rugby’s Most Entertaining Man.
In a column on theroar.com.au, the author, allegedly an insider in the Wallaby camp, revealed further wonderful gobbets of information about the life and times of the Honey Badger that only serve to confirm his status as Rugby's Most Entertaining Man.
The Insider explained Cummins, one of eight kids, was joined by his dad on the field after his first test in Rosario against Argentina after the old man scaled a six-foot fence.
It also revealed Cummins is adamant that aliens do exist, that he goes nowhere without his ukulele and that his Auntie Margie lost 70kg to claim the title of Australia’s Biggest Loser.
“If ever there was a bloke who runs to the ‘beat’ of his own drum so to speak, that’s Cummo,” said The Insider.
We could not agree more.