Once a Porirua boy . . .

Faith, fam­ily, friends – All Black looks to his roots and his sport

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By RHI­AN­NON McCON­NELL

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-

for

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.

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