Once a Porirua boy . . .
Faith, family, friends – All Black looks to his roots and his sport
Were you always a Porirua boy?
I was born and bred in Porirua. I went to Maraeroa School, Brandon Intermediate and then moved to Wellington College. I still get stick from the boys for moving to town, but my heart’s in Porirua. What was it like growing up here?
It’s the school of hard knocks. At four o’clock, I’d get home from Brandon Intermediate and then walk to Porirua Park from Cannons Creek — a long walk.
I’d go home, eat a loaf of bread and go to training. I’d walk to training. Sometimes my dad would pick me up, but sometimes he wouldn’t.
Another memory is one of my first trainings. We were told to lineup and the coach said we were going to play bullrush. Then he said, ‘‘I’m the tagger and you have to tackle me’’. It was a harden-up lesson. Was it part of your success?
Definitely. I’m not saying, ‘‘The hood bought me up’’, because it wasn’t like that, but it definitely taught me good values. In Porirua there is not really a lot. Back then, as a young footy player, it was just enjoy the footy and go hard. ‘‘Here’s the ball, now go do it.’’ We didn’t have all the fancy technology people have now days. It was just, ‘‘Here’s the ball and go’’. I loved playing the local teams out here. Do you come back much?
Yes, my mum’s still out here and my family’s out here. I go back when I can and always chill out there. Sunday lunch and Sunday dinners are always good. What do you think of Porirua’s ability to produce rugby players?
You look at the Hurricanes and maybe a third of the team come from Porirua. There are so many successful players coming out of Porirua itself. There is a lot of talent. How are you feeling about this season?
I am feeling healthy. My body is feeling refreshed. I’m feeling good to go and ready for this year. I have no injuries and had a really good break. Everything has happened in a good way. The whole team culture and ethos is going really well as well, just trucking along. Any predictions season?
I don’t want to sound too arro-
this gant, but with confidence I say we will do pretty well. We have had our whole culture re-evaluated and changed up a bit, but I can’t give away too many secrets. Where are your sights set this year?
Obviously I want to make the All Blacks. That’s one of my priorities, but in saying that I just want to win. It’s like a ladder and I have All Blacks at the top and then Super championship below that and then I want to play the best I can and provide the best performance week in and week out, consistently, for my team. Whether I make the All Blacks or not, I just want to be better. Are you pursuing the 2015 World Cup in Britain?
I wouldn’t lie and say that wasn’t one of my goals. Since I was at school I always wanted to make that 2015 World Cup. That’s the goal, a dream I’ve had in my heart for a while. But in saying that I have to focus on each day as it comes. I will be very blessed if I make that team, but that’s a long way away and obviously I have a team here. In the rugby world, I still have to play a season. What keeps you going?
Definitely my faith in God, my family and my friends – my wife’s in that, too. Also, a self-belief in the fact I can do it. The fact I can prove to others that you can do whatever you want to do. Anyone can do whatever they want to do if they work hard. You got married last year. How’s that going?
It’s hard to answer because it’s more than good. Here’s the best way to describe it: God created the world and said it was good. Married life is really good. My wife looks after me. You’re 23, married, playing for the Hurricanes and have made your All Black debut. A lot of people would only dream of that.
You’ll get anything if you work hard, no matter how long it takes. It sounds so cliche, but it’s so true. I am a true believer in hard work. Especially if you’re from Porirua, you have to work hard. People will doubt you and that’s just how it is. You grow up in Cannons Creek or Waitangirua, and people are going to look at you different because you’re from Porirua.
But, the thing is, when you have success there is a bit of hope. And that’s what I try to represent. I still remember my roots and stay humble and true to that. Was it always rugby?
Yup. Even if I didn’t get paid I’d still play rugby. You get to smash people for a living. It’s fun, I enjoy it. I’ve always said if I didn’t enjoy it I wouldn’t do it. Have you always been a prop?
I was always a prop, but played No 8 for a year when I was young in Porirua. I stayed true to being a prop. What advice do you have for other young people? My mum always said to never take the easy way out. That’s probably the biggest advice. If you take the hard route you will learn, and the best thing you can do is learn. Whatever you want to be, a doctor or an All Black, never take the easy way out, work hard.