BOSS Will Croker heaped praise on “true clubman” Sam Hardcastle ahead of the legendary Bournemouth star’s testimonial on Saturday.
A Hardcastle XV will take on a President’s XV at Chapel Gate (2pm) ahead of Lions’ end-of-season award ceremony.
Scrum-half Hardcastle has served the club for 25 years since starting in the under-11s and made his senior debut against Swanage & Wareham in March 1999.
The 37-year-old has made 324 league appearances and racked up 973 points – his tally including 188 tries and eight hat-tricks – to become Lions’ all-time leading try and points scorer.
Director of rugby Croker told the Daily Echo: “When you tell people Sam is 37, they just cannot get their heads round it.
“Sam should have been playing significantly higher. Even now, I still have opposition coaches saying ‘your nine is ridiculous’.
“He is in incredible physical shape. He has lost a small part of his top-end speed, which you would expect, but he is still much quicker than most and is a wonderful rugby player.
“As a person, he is a very good man. He’s not a leader in that he shouts and screams – he just gets on the pitch and does his job and others respond to him. They love the fact he is on the pitch with them on a Saturday.”
Asked how many more campaigns Hardcastle could play, Croker replied: “Who knows is the honest answer. There is always the joke that every season is his last.
“He keeps himself in such good shape and his brain is as sharp as ever.
“He has probably played in four completely different Bournemouth sides. He gets energised by that and having the young guys around him.
“We have our end-of-season dinner afterwards as well and Sam will rightly get all the accolades he deserves. He is a true clubman.
“All the money which is raised on the gate is going to Sam so we would love to have a big crowd.”
Source : BournemouthEcho