Suggested New Year's Resolutions for 10 Rugby Stars

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistJanuary 3, 2014

Suggested New Year's Resolutions for 10 Rugby Stars

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    There's no better time than New Year's to look back on what we might have done wrong in the past and cast an eye toward improving in the future.

    And while the old stereotypes aren't totally true, not all rugby players are of the smart variety. They make their fair share of mistakes that need some reconciliation.

    Here, we look to give some ordinary resolutions an extraordinary spin thanks to those individuals they're being applied to, although it's fair to say not everyone will keep their promise in 2014.

Honourable Mention: Wallabies Stars Get to Bed Before Curfew

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    Staying up late is a temptation for any child, and by the time we get to adulthood, many professionals have already grown out of the need or desire to keep the sun at bay.

    However, not everyone resists the nightlife so easily. In November, six Wallabies players ventured out until the wee hours of the morning in Dublin.

    Such an act wouldn't be called an offence, except for the fact that this particular outing happened just a few days before Australia's international Test fixture against Ireland.

    As BBC Sport reported at the time, Ewen McKenzie was swift to suspend Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Liam Gill, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Paddy Ryan for the transgression.

    Maybe in the future, the six offenders will think twice before seeing off that nightcap.

1. Andy Goode: Hit the Gym

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    Andy Goode has always been larger than your average fly-half.

    In fact, even since his Leicester Tigers tenure, the No. 10 has resembled something closer to a forward than a back.

    What's admirable, however, is that the veteran has nonetheless remained a top-flight standard playmaker for his senior career. But wouldn't that career be improved by a little more extracurricular activity?

    Goode's greatest asset is evidently his brain, but a few more hours in the gym every week could turn the 33-year-old into an even more dangerous weapon altogether.

    That being said, such a drastic lifestyle change is unlikely to happen so late in the player's career, but one should never say "never."

2. Michael Hooper: Put the Opposition Down Nicely

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    It may not be the gentlest of sports, but even rugby's biggest brutes should be able to play nicely.

    This year has seen Michael Hooper pulled up on numerous occasions for tip tackling. The up-and-coming Wallabies star seems incapable of going more than a few high-profile internationals without getting slightly overzealous.

    As a result, the offences not only hurt Hooper by getting him sent to the sin bin, but they could be considered selfish for putting his team at risk of exposure.

    That isn't to say all of the 22-year-old's tackling is bad. In fact, the mobile flanker is one of the busiest defenders in the game.

    However, a little less rotation and little more padding in the tackle would go a long way.

3. Gavin Henson: Become a Better Teammate

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    Gavin Henson's career will always go down as one filled with the pondering of what could have been. The Welshman's personality traits often conflict with the best interests of his career.

    One of those traits is vanity.

    At 31 years of age, the journeyman has now been around the block and finds himself at Bath following his exit from London Welsh.

    However, as the video shows, it wasn't long after his arrival at the Premiership club that Henson butted heads with teammates—and not for the first time in his career.

    It's late in the day to salvage what could have been a prestigious career, but becoming a likable teammate is something that's still within reach.

4. Anthony Watts: Take the High Road More Often

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    Anthony Watts obviously missed the lesson in school where he was taught that biting one's peers is never acceptable...never mind biting them on their penis.

    But Watts did bite an opponent in the nether region, and as a result, he was suspended for eight weeks.

    As of late 2013, the former NRL bad boy is without a club. He has seemingly tested the patience of one organisation too many in what has been a very muddied track record.

    However, should Watts find himself in the employment of another NRL side in the future, it may be wise for the 27-year-old to take the road less traveled and not live up to what people have grown to expect from him.

5. Mike Phillips: No Alcohol During Work Hours

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    Although the Welsh scrum-half denies such allegations, it remains uncertain as to whether or not Mike Phillips actually turned up to a Bayonne team analysis meeting under the influence of alcohol.

    But that's the reason the Top 14 side gave following his release, with Wales Online reporting that Phillips intends to retaliate with court action.

    In any case, a piece of friendly advice is to keep the drinking to a minimum during work hours.

    Minimum means none in this case.

6. Danny Care: Stay Away from the Wheel

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    In fairness to Danny Care, 2013 was a successful year in terms of abiding by his New Year's resolution already, but such is the severity of his case that a second calendar of commitment may be recommended.

    In early 2012, the Daily Mail reported that the Harlequins scrum-half had been caught drunk-driving for the second time in less than a month. He was swiftly suspended from the roads for 16 months as a result.

    Not only that, but the star's career came under scrutiny, as his international involvement was limited for months.

    To preserve his career and livelihood on the whole, Care is advised to spend a prolonged amount of time off the roads.

7. Sebastian Chabal: Anger Management Classes

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    How ironic is it that a man who resembles the stereotypical portrayal of a Catholic deity turns out to be such an easily angered monster?

    And as the clip shows, you won't like Sebastian Chabal when he's angry. 

    Agen's Marc Giraud found out firsthand (no pun intended) that at the ripe old age of 36, Chabal is no longer able to put up with the petty tugging and shirt-pulling that go on around the ruck.

    The Lyon monolith isn't headed for retirement just yet, but these last steps as a professional player might be better deserved with a touch of anger management.

8. James O'Connor: Show More Commitment

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    James O'Connor is only 23 years of age, and yet the Wallabies veteran of more than 40 international caps to his name has already spent time with three separate clubs in both hemispheres.

    Not to look too far ahead, but the utility back could be going in the way of a certain other flashy star already mentioned on this list.

    O'Connor has the potential to become one of Australia's favoured children, but that may not come to fruition unless he finds some stability at club level.

    The London Irish asset needs to plan his next move carefully and stick with it, if he's to have any hopes of featuring at the 2015 Rugby World Cup or live up to the expectations thrust upon him as a teenager.

9. Quade Cooper: Don't Look Back

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    Last year was a huge stage of development for Quade Cooper, who has appeared to rid himself of the weaknesses that once plagued his career and replaced them with more positive results.

    Now back within the Australian camp and impressing under Ewen McKenzie, the 25-year-old has found his groove within the Wallabies and Queensland Reds setups, with no signs of going back to his old self.

    Where once there was risk now lies security. However, that's not to say Cooper has lost all of his flash; he retains just enough to set himself apart from the rest.

    In 2014, it's vital that he continues this upward trajectory and resists old habits.

10. Kieran Read: Never Change

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    There was no better player in the world over the course of 2013 than New Zealand's Kieran Read—that is now official.

    The IRB Player of the Year winner was sensational. From his work in Crusaders' Super Rugby campaign to his extraordinary exploits within Steve Hansen's New Zealand side, Read was a leader from start to finish.

    In his last seven international matches of 2013, the No. 8 scored an incredible six tries and notched a couple of extraordinary assists to boot, showing that he's not only the best in his position but the best in his  trade.

    Now comes the simple part: keeping it up.