RW’s Alan Dymock finds the fires still burning for Glasgow’s All Black
T THE age of 35 and having spent 13 years at Canterbury, sustaining five broken arms along the way, being named in two All Black World Cup squads eight years apart, and then taking two years in Toulouse, it would be understandable if former New Zealand hooker Corey Flynn hung up the spurs. He hasn’t though, moving to the ever-ambitious Glasgow Warriors. In truth, his desire to stay at the sharp end of rugby has surprised him too.
“The hardest thing about moving away is making the decision itself,” Flynn explains to Rugby World. “I always thought I’d retire in New Zealand but we got the opportunity in Toulouse and we really enjoyed life away. After Toulouse, it came down to the fact we weren’t ready to go back to New Zealand.
“I am 35 but you’re always ten years younger in your head than you are physically. And I actually feel that suffering all of the broken arms has given longevity to my career. There have been long times when I’ve not experienced all the smash and bash in training. I talked to Gregor Townsend about moving and he mentioned Europe and how ambitious Glasgow are. I liked that.
“I thought that going to Toulouse I’d just be putting on the boots and not worrying about it at all, but I realised it was still about the little things for me, about that drive and time spent working. Some clubs say they are ambitious but that’s on the surface, and for me it comes down to being part of a group working hard and who are wholeheartedly team-centred.
“We’re working bloody hard at Glasgow and it feels good. We loved living in France – it was a pretty amazing lifestyle – but it was less demanding, physically, and I suppose I have to say thanks to Toulouse for helping me recharge the batteries!”
If the burning desire to compete hard on the rugby field still flickers within Flynn, the push for a rewarding family life also roars on. Wife Kerilee recently finished a degree in medical imaging and is on the hunt for work in Scotland, while daughter Sierra, nine, and son Seth, seven, will be joining schools. Flynn laughs when talking about how selfish the life of a rugby player can be, but appreciates why he is lucky. It is not so much that the kids disliked schooling in France but that the
A“hierarchical structures” of schools there were not a comfortable fit. Coming to the UK means being able to pick better-suited schools for the young ones, thanks to the lack of a language barrier. It also allows Kerilee to take work advice from the Warriors’ network of friends in various professions but have the freedom to utilise what her husband calls her “independent streak” in exploring options.
Settling in to life in Scotland’s largest city is all fine and well, but on the field there is plenty to do with Glasgow. After three years of play-off progress, the side were shocked by the Guinness Pro12 champions Connacht in their final two outings last season. They also failed to flee the pool stages again in Europe. While a number of first-teamers have left, the departure of unpredictable and entertaining Fiji lock Leone Nakarawa leaves a massive hole to be filled.
Perhaps not much has to change for the club, and Townsend certainly underlined the desire to take the team another step forward in continental competitions when he coaxed Flynn across the Channel. So what sort of impact will he have over the next season?
“Well, at the moment I’m not speaking too much,” Flynn says. “You want to earn the right to voice an opinion, so I’ll be as quiet as possible until someone asks me. But I want to do well for the boys and respect the efforts they have put in. I’m not just coming in and talking about the All Blacks.
“My job is about giving my best on the field but another role is to help with moulding younger guys at the club like James Malcolm. My top priority is obviously to put pressure on Pat MacArthur and Fraser Brown. We have three very experienced hookers and some young, athletic guys to come on leaps and bounds. Who knows, the competition might even add on another two years for me!”
Being able to rotate quality hookers throughout the season is a real positive for Glasgow. Having an older head who has been in huddles at the Crusaders, Toulouse and the All Blacks can also help hugely, if he is used correctly. When the pressure mounts in European pools or as Test stars are called away from Scotstoun, expect Flynn to voice his opinion strongly. Because he still cares about the little things.
He still cares about winning.
My ’64 Chevy Impala “It was a present I gave to myself after the 2011 World Cup.” Business “I part-own a couple of pubs back in New Zealand.” Family “We’ll explore Victoria Park and Glasgow’s West End.”