Is priority for giant dad
If I had gone overseas, it would have just been me. That’s not who I am. I want to be around my family.’ ANGUS TA’AVAO
direction: family first, and everything else is secondary to that. ‘‘If I had gone overseas, it would have just been me. That’s not who I am. I want to be around my family,’’ he says.
He even contemplated giving the game away – earning a crust either via property development or moving into the media where he fancied his chances as a commentator.
It was only a chance call to Chiefs coach Colin Cooper, who he describes as a ‘‘great mate’’, that earnt him a shot at Super Rugby again this season, meaning he can be on hand to help little Leo through his battle.
When the family first returned late last year, Bradfield and Leo continued to live in Auckland, while Ta’avao commuted to Hamilton for the week’s training. Monday to Friday he lived with Damian and Marty Mckenzie, heading back up State Highway 1 for the weekend.
But he’s moved the whole family to Hamilton now, and is loving having his tiny, now 14-month-old son close at hand.
‘‘If I’m having a difficult day, seeing him makes it all better,’’ Ta’avao says.
‘‘The smile he gives us, gets me. It sounds so cliche, but when I see that, it melts my heart. He’s just a special part of our life.’’
The name Leo was inspired by Bradfield grandfather, but it was the meaning behind the name that made it stick for the couple, who had even held off from naming their son for a few days in that Sydney hospital while he fought for his life.
‘‘Leo the lion. We called him Leo because he has a big heart and he is so brave.’’
The couple say the decision to bring the whole family back across the Tasman has really paid off as they’ve been able to enjoy the support of close friends and family.
‘‘Having his little cousins about is making a huge difference. He likes to get outside, and have fun,’’ Ta’avao says.
‘‘It’s amazing the way he can affect people. He’s a bit of a flirt too.’’
And the former Auckland and Blues player has been blown away by the close-knit Chiefs community, too. ‘‘I had heard it was good down here, but it really is. It’s got a great environment.’’
Angus Ta’avao and Kristyn Bradfield came back to New Zealand for the good of baby Leo.