Nicolas Guay profite des conseils de «Pope Van Zeyl»

If events have been jostling for a few weeks, Quebecer Nicolas Guay, 25, is fully enjoying his debut in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

Nicolas Guay profite des conseils de «Pope Van Zeyl»

If events have been jostling for a few weeks, Quebecer Nicolas Guay, 25, is fully enjoying his debut in the Canadian Football League with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

“I learn a lot from the veterans, there are guys, like Chris Van Zeyl, who have been in the league for about 15 years and they show us everything that is going on and I feel like I am improving. every day,” said the former Laval University Rouge et Or, a 300-pound colossus who plays on the offensive line.

“I feel like the father of my teammates”, for his part reacted Van Zeyl, with humor, when asked what he thought of the new recruit.

However, the veteran was full of praise for Guay.

"He's one of the best rookies I've seen in the Canadian League and I'm in my 16th year," Van Zeyl said. He has everything, the right approach, attention to detail, he loves football and he is a good human being. His game is already on point, even though he's just out of college."

“Honestly, when I arrived, I had no idea of ​​the culture of the team, I was surprised to see how much it resembled what we saw at Laval University, for his part. points out the young man from Quebec. It's the attention to small details and the fact of always competing at 100%, always wanting to win no matter the moment, whether it's in training, at a preseason game or in the regular season.

Pay it forward

What Chris Van Zeyl is currently doing for Nicolas Guay, some Alouettes players had done for him at the time. Now 38, Van Zeyl had actually been drafted by Montreal in 2007. He remembers having benefited from the good advice of Dave Mudge, Skip Seagraves, Bryan Chiu and Scott Flory, among others. He also says that it was coach Marc Trestman who made him move from the defensive line to the offensive line.

“No one is left alone here, it is our priority to have a good relationship between veterans and rookies, summarized Van Zeyl. We want to make sure Nic is ready to play if his name is called. There is no rivalry between young and old, we help each other, it is important for us in this team.

A crazy month

Nicolas Guay's month of May will continue on Saturday night with a preseason game against the Alouettes at Tim Hortons Field. This will complete a completely crazy sequence.

“It was fast in the last month, there was the draft in early May, it was an incredible evening with my family, my girlfriend and my friends, he agreed. To see his name appear on the screen, it was an extraordinary moment.

Guay was a seventh-round pick, 64th overall.

"All I cared about was getting drafted, no matter the round, and I'm really happy to have fallen into a good organization like Hamilton," commented the Quebecer.

The following week, he showed up at the Tiger-Cats camp.

"When it goes, you no longer look back afterwards," summed up Guay.

Even if he plays on the second unit of the Tiger-Cats offensive line, the Quebecer has good hopes of being used against the Alouettes. He intends to take advantage of it, according to his own words, to taunt his former Rouge et Or teammates, Samuel Thomassin and David Côté.

Considering the late agreement for the renewal of the collective agreement, the Alouettes will have been forced to travel the same day of the preseason game scheduled for Saturday evening, in Hamilton. The Tiger-Cats, on the other hand, will have benefited from a preparation down to the smallest detail, with Orlando Steinauer sauce.

Friday morning, at the facilities of McMaster University, the Tiger-Cats players were even treated to a rehearsal of the national anthem. Decidedly, the head coach of the “Ti-Cats” leaves nothing to chance.

“There are several rookies and several Americans who are here for the first time, it is simply to understand how it goes during the national anthem, commented running back Sean Thomas Erlington, now accustomed to the Steinauer regime. It’s just a little preparation for that aspect.”

At the Tiger-Cats, we visualize the different situations that can arise before, during and after the match. Even the celebration surrounding a possible victory was repeated.

"It's visualization, absolutely," said Thomas Erlington, who has been a member of the Tiger-Cats since 2017. Our coach often tells us to predict the victory, so we prepare accordingly.

"It's part of the culture of the organization, we don't cut corners and it's a question of details," added rookie Nicolas Guay.

A team player

At 29, Thomas Erlington sees the new season as a great challenge. He knows his role as a running back and will certainly want to force the coach to use him at key moments. Unfortunately, this was not the case for him during the last playoffs when the Tiger-Cats lost the Gray Cup final on December 12 against the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. The most important thing, however, is to adhere to the team concept.

“I still expect to have an important role in this team, noted the Quebecer. If it's not to be the starter, it will be like the second. I'm here to support Don [Jackson] who happens to be the current starter and for all the other players who need my help. I just want to do my part to make this team even better than it already is.