He was a fabulous sight in full flight and used his speed and anticipation to score 21 tries. Inside Sport caught up with him to investigate the secrets of his success ‒ at work and play.
You were enticed by rugby league at one stage, weren’t you?
I was. But I have a real love of rugby as a sport and the culture that goes with it. You get to travel and see the world and you get to meet some interesting people, whether they’re co-players or supporters or whatever. People ask me what the highlight of my career was: it was actually going to Villers-Bretonneux on the Western Front in France. People expect you to say winning the World Cup or something like that. But that was amazing. I only have one photo from 20 years of rugby in my whole house and that’s of me and the manager of the team walking down one of the memorials with all the crosses off to the side.
Who’s the best coach you ever played under?
I thought Bob Dwyer really understood the game, how it was played and how it evolved. Rod Macqueen was definitely the most organised – had great procedures, great protocols, created a great culture and had good people who understood the game under him, so it was different, but both were very effective.
Have you drawn on Rod Macqueen’s example in your own managerial life?
Very definitely. Even though we were professionals for three years before Rod took over, he actually introduced professionalism to Australian rugby and approached it in a whole new and different way. He provided a real discipline that had been lacking.
Your career broached the amateur-to- professional transition in the game. Did the game lose anything with that change? Did players stop having as much fun?
Not necessarily. I don’t think the game or the enjoyment changed at all; to me the money wasn’t irrelevant, but it wasn’t the main priority. I think
the only thing that I didn’t enjoy was that you were going into a camp with Rod and the team and you basically lived in a hotel for a long period of time and there was a lot of really narrow focus. That was good for the team, but it was a bit “groundhog day”.
Are you involved with rugby at all these days?
I’m on the board of the Rugby Union Players’ Association. That’s my real first commitment back to the game on a formal basis. I’m enjoying that.
What are the hot issues there?
At the moment it’s the negotiation of the collective bargaining agreement with the ARU.