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Milliseconds later a fearful crack of contact and a splash of claret. "Well stop f**king behaving like one." Those were the first words he ever said to me.That was the thing about Willie, his mere presence on the field normally worked as a deterrent. When it came to someone taking liberties with one of his team-mates - well, you could do it once. The punch hit with such force that while this guy was holding my chin I could feel the blow reverberate through his body. I think he was pissed because he had hurt his paw dispensing justice. His game, as Fergus Slattery put it, was about "short-range physicality".It took about five or six minutes before order was restored. Nobody in that dressing-room could have said such a thing and got away with it apart from Willie Duggan. Subconsciously I may have embellished everything that we thought we knew about the man by re-telling this story. He had a fag in his hand coming into the dressing room. He said and did simple things which immediately were immortalised into popular rugby culture.Surely his legacy demands a little bit more introspection?Not everyone is in the room when Bomber Browne pipes up for a 15- or 20-minute pep talk.He is about to punchline when the door bursts open.The dressing-room is nearly full now as Fergus Slattery arrives in.
Willie has a cigarette in his mouth; he surveys the room and fixes his gaze on Hugo. Willie had graduated magna cum laude in straight-talking from the University of 'This is the way it is'.Gary Halpin did prodigious things in the gym, he could dead-lift and bench-press truly phenomenal weights but that strength never translated into something tangible when it came to physical contact.Every time you had Willie take the ball in a maul these granite hands left bruises in your mid-riff.Duggan was by a distance the strongest player I have ever played with.There is a huge difference between weight-room strong and physical-contact strong. Dean Richards and Tim Gavin had the same type of strength.