On Wednesday, 13th Man Sports’ Tom Lizardo had a chance to sit down with BC Lions’ Canadian quarterback, Nathan Rourke.
Tom Lizardo: I don’t think Michael Riley’s retirement shocked anybody but as you came toward the end of the season how much were you thinking this was going to be his last year?
Nathan Rourke: It really wasn’t at the top of my mind at all. Yeah, he was getting banged up at the end of the season there, and there were injuries that were kind of plaguing him throughout the year, but I think the storyline of his career has been the Iron Man, has been that tough guy – he takes a lot of hits and he was definitely showing that.
I for one was surprised I saw a guy who was still playing at a very high-level last year and leading the CFL in a number of categories and I thought he could still come back and do it at a high level.
Obviously, there are other things I’m not as aware of, his family and personal life situation probably carried more weight than I was expecting, but I was a bit surprised by the announcement, and I just found out on Monday.
TL: Can you just reflect on his career?
NR: I’ve been a big fan of the CFL for a long while as a Canadian kid, going to CFL games growing up, and he’s a guy that you know. You know his career and you know the type of player he is, and his success. Then when I got drafted there, it was a great situation for me to go and learn from a guy who has done it all and has played the game at a very high level, and just be a great person to be around and to learn and to see how he works and everything. And that’s exactly what it was. I got a front-row seat to watch one of the greatest to ever play the position in the CFL.
He was impactful to me in more ways than one, in such a short time. Just to be able to watch how he interacts with the guys in the locker room, and how he leads on and off the field.
To see how he prepares every day. There are a lot of things that, as a rookie, I had to figure out. Watching him to see how to be a pro, and see how he carries himself those things I was able to pick up and observe. I will definitely be modelling a lot of the way that I do some of those things, and prepare for a game every single week, off of what I learned from him.
TL: The organization says you are the presumed starter does this announcement change anything?
NR: No it doesn’t. I came into this year with the mindset I was going to prepare to be the starter no matter what the situation was and that really hasn’t changed. I think that’s why the organization has the confidence to make that kind of statement and I don’t plan on changing that at all.
TL: Does it at all impact your offseason routine?
NR: With the offseason routine, I’ve been preparing the same way I prepared last year as if I was going to be the starter. I don’t know how to prepare like I’m going to be a backup or guy who’s going to ride the bench. I just don’t know how to prepare that way, and so things won’t change for me in terms of this offseason and how I’m approaching it.
TL: What does it mean to prepare as a starter off-season, and week-to-week?
NR: Day-to-day off-season I’ll be putting in the positional work, showing up being the early guy. Showing face and setting the standard in that regard.
I think the in-season preparation work you have to do behind the scenes, are all the things I did last year as a number two guy, and that is what I will continue to do as a starter.
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