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From the Tigers to the Tango
Former Tigers ace Austin Healey is foresaking the rugby field for the dance floor in Strictly Come Dancing 2008. Every week BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani will be chatting to Austin about his experiences.
Austin Healey is well-known for his appearances on the rugby field with the Leicester Tigers and the England team, but never before on the dance floor!
He's one of the contestants on Strictly Come Dancing 2008, and he says he's approaching it with, "a mixture of fear and excitement."
WEEK 3 - Listen: Tigers on Austin
What do Austin's former Tigers and England teammates make of his twinkly-toed talents?
BBC East Midlands Today's Natalie Jackson spoke to Tigers' captain Martin Corry, and BBC Leicester's Charles Dagnall spoke to Geordan Murphy and Lewis Moody...
Austin Healey and Martin Corry
Austin is proving he's as capable on the dance floor - dressed in lycra and spangles - as he is on the rugby pitch.
Corry says it's taken a bit of getting used to:
"I met up with him a couple of weeks back and we spent half an hour talking about ballroom dances and all the little intricacies...
"I had to go to the bar and have a pint of beer to show that I was still a man! Because if someone was listening they would have been questioning it."
Cheesy grins and falling down steps
But he's still supporting his old friend...sort of:
"Part of me, as he's walking down with his cheesy grin, wants to see him falling down the steps.
"But there's another part of me, a big part of me, and you know that he's somebody that throws himself into everything."
But was Lewis Moody expecting him to be such a good dancer?
"I think that I hoped he wasn't going to be that good, but Cozzer said it, he's just got a natural ability at being good at things.
"And it really does pain you but you know if he wants to do something he's going to do it, and he's going to be good at it."
So would Lewis or Geordan Murphy take to the dancefloor themselves in a future series of Strictly?
Lewis says that Geordan is fond of Riverdance, but Geordan says he'd have an unfair advantage:
"I could definitely do it in fairness, but it wouldn't be fair to the competition, so I'll give it a miss.
"But we might get Lewis to do it, it might be quite funny. I think Julian White would be good at it in fairness, he was just talking about it the other day.
"It would be quite amusing to see him running around the dance floor, potentially ploughing through the judges' podium."
A Judge's View
Strictly Judge Craig Revel Horwood told BBC Leicester's Tony Wadsworth that he was very impressed with Austin's dancing so far:
"He's fantastic actually, I mean he's lost an amazing two stone! I don't know where from, well certainly not from his arms.
"He really is quite flighty on the dance floor, he's brilliant. I can't believe that he hasn't danced before."
Craig says he thinks that Austin could go all the way and bring home the Strictly crown!
WEEK 1 - Listen: The First Programme!
BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani spoke to Austin Healey on 20 September 2008:
Austin had a great first show. Austin and Erin waltzed to 'The Rainbow Connection' and the judges were genuinely surprised at the performance.
Craig said: "I am surprised - graceful, elegant, really clean lines."
Austin and his dancing partner Erin
Len summed up: "The best first dance for a man I have ever seen."
Austin says he's had "a mixture of responses" from his family and friends, ranging from surprise to shock.
But he says he's also very tired and is looking forward to a day or so of "normal life".
Even so, he is still relishing the challenge of learning the next dances, including the Jive and the Cha Cha Cha.
The dance-off made Austin realise that this was a real competition:
"Up till that time it had been a bit of fun."
He hasn't considered who the main opponents might be:
"I'm just going to enjoy it."
Listen: Before Austin took to the dance floor
BBC Leicester's Rupal Rajani spoke to Austin Healey about appearing on Strictly come Dancing:
Austin says he's looking forward to being involved with the show, but it's a bit daunting:
"It is a dancing competition. But it is also a popularity contest...
"I'm going into it with with the attitude - enjoy it as much as you can, dance with a smile on your face and don't take yourself too seriously."
Tough acts to follow
Austin is being partnered by Erin Boag. She has made it to the final of the show in two previous series, with partners Julian Clary and Colin Jackson.
Last year she danced with another Leicester sporting star, Willie Thorne.
Austin says that so far he has enjoyed learning to ballroom dance, and in particular the waltz:
"It seemed pretty restrictive at first, but as you learn the detail it becomes more enjoyable."
Watch this space and keep listening to BBC Radio Leicester 104.9FM to keep up-to-date with Austin's progress on Strictly Come Dancing.
last updated: 09/10/2008 at 13:45
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