Crossing the divide
Wasps centre Mayor talks to skysports.com about the lure of switching codes to union.
By Tony Curtis - follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 28/11/11 11:23am
Cross-code convert Chris Mayor admits he can understand why a number of players are tempted to play rugby union.
Having begun his career at Wigan, Mayor went on to switch his allegiances to Sale in 2001, going on to make his debut in 2003 and to win the Premiership title 2006.
The 29-year-old centre has subsequently gone on to play for Northampton, Gran Parma and now Wasps, while he has represented England at Under-21s and Sevens levels.
A number of players have subsequently switched codes to union, with a variety of success - from England internationals Chris Ashton and Shontayne Hape to the quickly forgetton Karl Pryce and Lee Smith.
Joel Tomkins is the latest to leave Wigan having agreed a long-term deal at Saracens, while his brother Sam scored in his one-off guest appearance for the Barbarians on Saturday.
And while fans of the 13-a-side code have accused their union cousins of poaching talent, Mayor claims he can see why players make the move.
"Every team, whether in union or league, wants the best players available regardless of what code they have played," Mayor told skysports.com
"For players coming from league it is about the opportunity - the chance to play for England at Twickenham in front of 85,000 people and to play in the likes the World Cup. I think that is why players come over.
"I know I came over for those opportunities. I have gone on to play for England at Sevens and Under-21s levels and they were massive honours for me - ones that are right up there."
The vast majority of players to cross the divide have been backs - and Mayor admits the complexity of union means it is harder for league forwards to make the switch.
"It is easier for a back to come across and pick up the moves very quickly as there are a lot of similarities," added Mayor.
"Speed works the same in either code whereas if you can play centre in league you can do it in union.
"For a forward it is so much harder. With the rucks, mauls, scrums, lineouts, etc there is so much for them to take in. "
Mayor has returned to the Premiership after a 12-month sabbatical in Italy - and although results haven't quite gone the way, he has been pleased with what he has seen at the club
"I have been very fortunate to play for two big sides in the past. I won the Premiership with Sale then more honours with Northampton, so to then get a third Premiership deal at a massive club like Wasps, I have been very blessed," said Mayor.
"Things are going well. We have started a little slowly but there is so much potential here that you should never underestimate us.
"There is a good group of young players here. Christian Wade is obviously the one that people have noticed as he is scoring a phenomenal amount of tries. He is tremendously talented and has a massive future in the game."
Chris Mayor was speaking on behalf the Movember campaign. Mayor said: "It has become really popular this year and is a great way to raise awareness of men's health issues. It is a good laugh too... me and Rob Webber have gone for the musketeers' look!" To support the Wasps boys as they aim to change the face of men's health, please visit their Movember page at uk.movember.com/mospace/672174