NEW ROLE: Prop Keith Barlow is enjoying an expanded role in Australian rugby. Picture: Jonathan CarrollMEREWETHER prop Keith Barlow wasn’t sure what was in store when he arrived from England in April.
He certainly didn’t expect to be greeted by torrential rain on his first day Down Under. Nor did he envisage playing off the bench six hours after flying halfway around the world.
They were the first of a number of new experiences for the 114-kilogram loosehead prop.
“I got off the plane at 9am, drove to the ground in torrential rain and played off the bench against Waratahs,” Barlow said. “It was a pretty interesting introduction.”
Three months down the track, Barlow could not be happier. He loves the Australian way of rugby where a prop is responsible for more than packing scrums and lifting in lineouts.
Off the field he is doing an internship with the Knights, working in the strength and condition department with their junior teams.
“It is quite different to back home,” Barlow said. “The way the games are played are so different. At home props concentrate on scrummaging and lineouts. You don’t carry that much ball.
“I’m really enjoying the opportunity to get my hands on the ball. In England you have a 22-man squad and props rarely play 80 minutes. [I have] things like that to adjust to. It is a good challenge and a way to expand your playing horizons.”
Barlow has been joined by fellow bookend Henry Sandys. Both played for Hartpury College, where Barlow earnt a sports science degree majoring in strength and conditioning.
“I had an offer to come out here and one of my lecturers had a contact at the Knights,” Barlow said. “I work with their junior teams two or three nights a week. It is more a hands-on role in the gym, helping out with their technique and the like.”
The Greens take on The Waratahs in a catch-up game on Saturday. “Everyone is pretty pumped,” Barlow said. “We feel like we are starting to hit our straps.”