(Reuters) – Canadian Matt Heaton is staying positive by seeing the funny side of things of his error-prone Rugby World Cup debut against Italy on Thursday.
Italy smashed Canada 48-7 at the Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium with Heaton fumbling the ball right at the line, getting a yellow card and giving up a penalty try.
“You have to have a brain of a goldfish and try and forget negatives,” Heaton told reporters. “It’s definitely always at the back of your mind. Now I’m getting tagged in all the Instagram memes and things like that. It’s quite funny. You have to have a laugh about it.
“You have to, otherwise you’ll just burn yourself out with stress. That’s no way to play. Just move on and catch the next one. I can’t do any worse any more.”
Heaton started the game on the bench but was thrust in due to an early injury to teammate Lucas Rumball.
“You try and play the cool cucumber all day,” the 26-year-old said. “I thought I had a good mental prep, but then as soon as I saw that I was coming on, the nerves were through the roof. It was baptism by fire.
“It’s the third-largest sporting event for viewership in the world so when I got on, I was like, I better not do anything like pick my nose or scratch my ass because everyone’s going to be watching.”
Soon after he came on, captain Tyler Ardon burst clear and passed to set up what should have been their opening try only for Heaton to drop the ball with the line gaping.
“Tyler took on a defender and then the ball came out of his hands and I went ‘oh crap, I better not drop this’, and as soon as you think about something like that, that’s how it works,” he said, hoping to put on a better show against New Zealand.
“I’m going to have to do something big to get me out of it. I have to pull a stunt or something like that. Hopefully, the opportunity comes and I’ll hold it with two hands this time.”
(Reporting by Arjun Panchadar in Bengaluru; editing by Sudipto Ganguly)