RUGBY UNION: WASPS stars James Haskell and Kurtley Beale were on hand to support a charity bike ride as it passed through Coventry.
The two international rugby players took time out of their injury rehab to cheer on BBC WM presenter Richie Anderson at the Ricoh Arena, as he began the final leg of his five day 250-mile tandem bike ride around the Midlands for Children In Need.
Richie started his journey on Monday at the Mailbox in Birmingham and has since passed through Stoke, Shrewsbury, Worcester and Coventry before finishing back in Birmingham.
Those joining him for various parts of his journey have included Olympic gold medallist Joe Clarke, Coronation Street actors Kevin Kennedy and Charlie Lawson, Neil Morrissey from Men Behaving Badly and BBC Midlands Today presenter Nick Owen.
Supporting Richie on his final leg from the Ricoh Arena was BBC Midlands Today presenter Mary Rhodes and BBC Coventry and Warwickshire’s Phil Upton.
“Children In Need does a lot of work in the Midlands and they’ve spent over £7 million helping children in this region alone, and I think it’s great,” said James Haskell.
“We are very lucky and privileged to do what we do as rugby players and we’ve had quite a fortunate route through life and not a lot of children have that opportunity. So for me it’s always good to support children because you want to make sure that other people have opportunities and get the help that they need.”
James Haskell’s teammate Kurtley Beale, from New South Wales in Australia, was particularly keen to throw his weight behind Children in Need.
He added: “I’ve done a bit of work with the indigenous community back home in Australia.
“I’ve had difficult experiences growing up so I’ve always wanted to support children that find it hard to go on and achieve their dreams, so if I can help in any way then that’s a bonus.”
Haskell and Beale’s special appearance comes after an impressive start to the season for Wasps, who have won seven out of their first eight Aviva Premiership games.
The next challenge sees them host Sale Sharks at the Ricoh Arena this Sunday when they will try to extend their home record to 16 wins in a row.
“The players moving up here has made a massive difference, but the intensity of training has also gone up a notch,” added Haskell when asked about the secret to success.
“Even when we are in rehab, we have to get to a certain level to cope with the demands of training, let alone the demands of the game, because there’s a lot of attention to detail. A lot of the excuses you would have had in the past have gone now.
“Sale will be very physical and will impose themselves in that area, particularly at set pieces. Both teams are packed with talent, so it should be an interesting game.”
To donate £5 to Children In Need, text BIKE to 70705. You must be over 16 and please ask the bill payer’s permission first.
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