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Nobby: A copper turned hooker

By Denise
August 8 2002

Dorian West became the second oldest player to start a game for England at 33, the oldest being Fred Gilbert in 1923 aged 38. A local lad whose Tigers career started way back in 1988.

Dorian West

Nickname: Nobby (From Ibstock, Leics. which is locally known as Nobby …apparently)
Position: Hooker
Weight: 16st 12lbs (107Kg)
Height: 5' 11" (1.8m)
Appearances: 117 + 47 (correct at 7/8/02)
Date of Birth: 05/10/1967
Previous Clubs: Nottingham
Caps: England 16
Tigers Debut: 03/09/1988 vs Bedford

Dorian West, affectionately known as Nobby, was born in Wrexham in Wales on the 5th of November 1967. As a youngster Nobby moved to Leicestershire where he attended Ashby-de-la-Zouch Grammar School. A keen sportsman Dorian played cricket for his school and swam for his county, as well as playing rugby for Leicestershire Schools and England 16 Group.

Before professionalism Dorian earnt his crust in a more exciting manner than most as a member of the armed response unit. He still misses the job, the excitement of the car chases and his former colleagues, and says that he may return to police work once his rugby playing career is over. Dorian and his missus have two daughters and recently built their own house from scratch (with a bit of help from the builders!). The big softy loves being a dad and says "having children is the best thing you'll ever do".

Dorian made his Tigers debut against Bedford in 1988 just over a month before his 21st birthday. At this stage of his career he was playing in the back row as a flanker. Never breaking through into the Tigers first team Dorian left in 1991 to join Nottingham, where he remained for five years. During this time legendary Tiger Dusty Hare had plans for our Nob, "Dusty had this bright idea that I might make a decent hooker"…he wasn't wrong.

Being born in Wales you would expect that the Welsh selectors would be knocking on his door and you would be right. In 1994 Dorian was invited to the Welsh trials, however he resisted the lure of the Welsh shirt because he decided he would rather play for the English Midlands team in a game on the same day. He claims: "I'm as English as anyone", and with his accent who would doubt it, me duck.

In 1996 Nobby returned to Welford Road, in the same year he became the first Tigers' front-row starter to score a hat trick of tries in one game. At his new position of Hooker Dorian faced stiff competition for the number 2 shirt from a certain Mr Cockerill, although he impressed enough in 1998 to gain his first full England cap against France at the age of 31. A late bloomer indeed, Dorian finally secured the Hooker berth at Tigers around the time of the Rugby World Cup in 1999 after which Cockers' form slumped.

Since then Dorian has gone from strength to strength seemingly improving with every year. Although getting on a bit and being, in his own words, "just a fat, ginger bloke" he is a tremendous all round player. His line-out throwing in comparison to several other international hookers is top-notch and around the park he is quick to assume scrum-half duties. He zips around the field often appearing on the wing where he doesn't look out of place, in fact I once mistook him for Winston Stanley…but I think I needed new glasses at the time!

In the 1999-2000 season he rounded off a great try for Tigers against Wasps in a vital league clash, which prompted Stuart Barnes (Sky Commentator) to say "West, well, he's not got the pace of an international wing but he's pretty quick". As well as his playing skills he has also shown himself to be captain material, having led the Tigers at various times to great effect when Johnno's been busy / naughty.

2000-2001 was perhaps his fairy-tale season, as well as being a major part of the squad that won the treble Nobby's individual talents were once again recognised by the England selectors after a few years in the wilderness. The Heineken Cup quarter-final against Swansea epitomised Nobby's all-round skill when he, a front-row forward for goodness sake, grubber kicked the ball beautifully for Geordan Murphy to add to his try count.

It was in this season that he became a regular in the England set-up being recalled for the Six Nations test against Wales and going on England's summer tour to Canada and the US. After the tour he went on a family holiday that had to be cut short when the call from the Lions came after initially being ignored, he impressed enough to earn a position on the bench for the final test.

Since then his good form for Tigers has continued but the new kid on the block Steve Thompson of Saints has pushed him from the England Number 2 shirt for the moment. The coming season at Tigers sees him no longer compete with Tigers stalwart Richard Cockerill for the position but two relative youngsters George Chuter and the newly acquired Rhys Williams, they are going to have to play well to wrench that shirt off him.

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