‘Honey Badger’ Nick Cummins on his toughest opponent and giving T20 cricket a crack

There’s never a dull moment in the life of Nick ‘The Honey Badger’ Cummins.

After calling time on a rugby career that saw him represent Australia in sevens and at test level, Cummins decided to give television a crack, appearing on The Bachelor and SAS Australia.

And now the Aussie larrikin is preparing for his next challenge, answering Team Cricket’s call to be their wildcard pick for the annual T20 Black Clash on January 20 at Hagley Oval.

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Cummins spoke to Stuff about his cricketing heroes, his toughest opponent on the rugby field and becoming a father for the first time.

How did your involvement in the T20 Black Clash come about?

I think Flemmo [Stephen Fleming] has dropped out, so mate, they’ve had to wheel in the next best! I’m here to put my best foot forward and have a good crack. It’s a big show, there’s a lot riding on it.

I’ll be in the nets as of Tuesday, really just fine-tuning this game.

Nick Cummins made 15 appearances for the Wallabies and was a regular on the world sevens circuit.

Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Nick Cummins made 15 appearances for the Wallabies and was a regular on the world sevens circuit.

Did you need convincing to pad up?

Cometh the hour, cometh the man [laughs]. I like to think I was the man there, but they couldn’t get him. But at the same time, yes, I’m ready for it, it’s come for a reason and I don’t want to let the boys down. I’ll bloody do my best.

Have you watched the event before?

Yeah, I’ve seen some highlights and I tell you what, it isn’t just a muck around – these blokes are actually incredibly talented, including the rugby players.

You don’t get to their level without having some sort of physical ability, and I think they’ve shown that with their achievements on and off the bloody pitch.

They’re incredible how they can play rugby and also bat and bowl. I want to get in there and uphold that.

TVNZ/SUPPLIED

From Jordie Barrett’s batting to Daniel Vettori’s death bowling, the Black Clash has delivered drama.

When was the last time you turned your arm over?

That would’ve been at Christmas last year, on the beach. But I’m booked in to do a bit of work in the nets. I’ve got a bit of work to do! But by that stage [January 20]the dad bod will have been worked off and the rig will be in fine form.

What’s your cricketing pedigree?

I played at school. I was learning then, but at the same time I bloody loved it. There’s quite a trick to it. So I played a bit at school, and then went down the footy path. Now I feel like I’m circling back.

Do you see yourself more as a batter or a bowler?

That’s undecided yet! Probably bowling. I’m like a medium pacer, but I class it as quick.

Who were your cricketing heroes when you were growing up?

[Adam] Gilchrist and Ian Healy, they were the two. Dennis Lillee was before my time, but watching the highlights is inspirational stuff, mate. That’s the sort of mindset and drive and attitude that we need to come away with the ‘W’.

Former Australia test captain Adam Gilchrist was one of Nick Cummins' cricketing heroes growing up.

Jonathan Wood/Getty Images

Former Australia test captain Adam Gilchrist was one of Nick Cummins’ cricketing heroes growing up.

Is there anyone you’re looking forward to playing against most?

There’s a few of the rugby boys in there … you’ve got [Richie] McCaw. Some of the boys on my team are going to be the savior for me, because I’m just going to get onto their wing, get off the hip and just run a few short balls off ’em [laughs].

You’ve become a bit of a TV personality in recent years, starring in The Bachelor and SAS Australia. Do you get the same buzz on television as you did when playing rugby?

the SAS show was a bloody absolute cracker, because it was real, you know. Things like that are powerful. A lot of personal growth and those sorts of things, but I’m taking it less seriously now and enjoying it more, which I think is the most important thing.

Yeah, rugby was bloody intense and a lot of pressure and that sort of thing, and that’s good because that’s how you grow. But I’m just enjoying it and getting out and having a laugh where I can.

Nick Cummins ran in three tries for Western Force against the Waratahs in a 2014 Super Rugby game.

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Nick Cummins ran in three tries for Western Force against the Waratahs in a 2014 Super Rugby game.

Back to your rugby days, is there a match that stands out?

I did like playing against the Waratahs [for Western Force] and we bloody smoked them there at home [Cummins scored a hat-trick in a 2014 Super Rugby game in Perth].

They were a pretty whiz-bang side with all their names at the time, and it was really good to put the wind up them and just show them that when a bunch of boys get together, you can do anything on the day.

Chiefs wing Leila Masaga was one of the toughest opponents Nick Cummins faced on the rugby field.

Sandra Mu/Getty Images

Chiefs wing Leila Masaga was one of the toughest opponents Nick Cummins faced on the rugby field.

Who was the best player you played with, and against?

Best player I played with would be Sam Wykes. Second-rower, bit of weapon, king of the lineout, he knows everything back to front and leads the boys.

And against … the Chiefs wingers at the time, they were bloody unreal. [Sitiveni] Sivivatu and [Lelia] Masaga. Those lads were just wrecking balls and proper athletes.

Yeah, those characters were really something to put the wind up ya, get you nervous and that’s what you want, that bit of nerves. It gives you extra power to take them on. Those boys were pretty impressive!

Nick Cummins believes the Springboks could peak just in the time for next year's Rugby World Cup.

Daniel Jayo/Getty Images

Nick Cummins believes the Springboks could peak just in the time for next year’s Rugby World Cup.

If you had to put your house on it, who are you backing to come away with the Rugby World Cup trophy in France next year?

Your house on it, geez, that’s a big call! Obviously the Kiwis are unbelievable, but that’s the thing with the World Cup, it’s anyone’s bloody show. So I’d say maybe the Springboks. I reckon they are going to turn it round and come home with a wet sail.

I want Ireland to win it. If not the Wallabies, I definitely want Ireland to come in and take it.

Who’s your favorite non-rugby sports team?

Down in Mandurah, it’s just a local team called the Raw Prawns. They’re going off [laughs].

Finally, how would the ‘Honey Badger’ like to be remembered?

Mate, I’ve just had a son, so as a good father.

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