Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Blenheim on the South Island. I was adopted when I was six weeks old, and I moved to Rotorua, where I was brought up. I then moved to Hamilton when I was 18, and I’ve been happy there ever since.
What is your favourite thing about living in New Zealand? Where is your favourite place in NZ?
My favourite thing about living in New Zealand is the outdoor living, fishing, going on hikes to the falls and going to the beach - I just really enjoy being outside. Everything is so close, especially in Hamilton, it takes me 45 minutes to access a good fishing spot and 30 minutes to get to Raglan which has an awesome beach. My favourite place is Te Kaha, on the east coast south of Opotiki, which is an awesome spot for fishing and diving. It’s out of the way and it’s great to go down there and just live off the land with my family.
What did you love most about playing for the All Blacks?
The opportunity to play for your country, that’s what you always dream of when you grow up as a footy kid. The opportunity to put on the All Blacks jersey, has a lot of meaning and honour in New Zealand so to do that was awesome.
What has been the Highlight of your career so far?
I’ve had a pretty long career, so it’s pretty hard to pinpoint one moment, but you can’t beat the Rugby World Cup in 2015, it was a great group of guys and we’d been together for a long time so had that family feeling. It was great to see all the hard work pay off and come away with the world cup.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
Not sure, I’ll definitely be hopping around somewhere; I’ll be absolutely wrecked from footy! I’ll be retired by then, but I’ll still be playing a little bit of club rugby. I’m pretty passionate about health and fitness, so maybe something along those lines. I also love the game of rugby so maybe a coaching role or something like that.
What do you eat in a day/week?
I’m a little bit strict, for longevity I guess I’ve always taken care of my body. Unlike some guys who can go to McDonald’s or KFC and eat whatever they want, I have to watch what I eat because I’ve want to be in the game for a long time, and nutrition plays a big part. I’m pretty healthy, maybe to the extreme, but I love that food and the habit that I have got into over the years.If you weren't in footy what would you be doing?
I always wanted to be a fireman growing up, so maybe in 10 years I’ll be a fireman! One of my good mates is a fireman in Hamilton, he’s been trying to pull my leg for a while, so we’ll see what happens.
How many kids have you got?
I’ve got two boys.
Are they going to be rugby superstars?
My eldest son loves cricket, and he’s really good at it, so maybe he’ll be a cricketer. My youngest is a real chunky looking thing, he might be a footy kid – he gets beaten up all the time by his big brother so he’ll be comfortable with the game!
Have you been playing rugby since you were a little boy?
No, I played soccer from the age of 12. Then I went and followed my mates to rugby one day after school and never looked back! I’m still friends with the mates that introduced me to rugby, I think it’s really important to keep school mates close. There’s a handful of us that always keep in contact. There’s good banter between us, they never let me forget that they introduced me to rugby.
You’re the 8th man in Super Rugby history to play 150 matches, how have you stayed healthy during your career?
I guess it’s always got to come down to the fact that it’s a blessing that I am able to do what I do for so long. I’ve always been watching what I eat, and I work pretty hard in the gym and off the field, to make sure my body’s in good nick. My Nutrition plays a big part in that - I’ve always eaten healthy, I don’t really drink. I train really hard even now at my age of 34. I try to out-work the young ones and I take pride in showing effort in the gym and on the rugby field. I guess when you’ve got that passion, drive and hunger, and love the game like I do, you want to stay there as long as you can and as long as your body can hold-up.
What do you like to do in your downtime?
I’m really into my fishing, I try to fish as much as I can, which isn’t very often – we don’t get a lot of downtime. I’m introducing my eldest boy to fishing at the moment; it’s pretty cool that I can take my son out fishing. It’s a great chance to really chill. On my days off, usually once a week, some of the boys go play golf, or go to the movies, but I usually spend them recovering and just stretching. I’m lucky enough that I’ve got my wife and boys at home, so I spend some time recovering and getting together with them.
How did you find out about the Johnny Bigg brand?
I was in Australia and I saw Taniela Tupou working with the brand and I thought they’re cool clothes. I’ve seen a couple of the league boys work with Johnny Bigg too.
Why are you a fan of Johnny Bigg clothing?
I find it quite hard to find clothes that fit my broad shoulders, and a big butt. I’ve always struggled to find pants that don’t look ridiculous and too baggy on me because of my thighs and my butt.
What's your favourite item of Johnny Bigg clothing and why?
I really like the Manhattan jacket and the Digby Boots.
What’s your Winter style advice for men? Any menswear trends you are loving?
You can’t go wrong with a bomber jacket and boots!
Johnny Bigg is expanding in NZ and opening a number of standalone stores. Do you think the JB brand will resonate with Kiwi men and if so why?
I think it’ll resonate with Kiwi men just because of the genetic size of us! Especially the Polynesian people, we’ve got broader shoulders, we’re bigger-boned. We really like that smart-casual look – sometimes you’ll see clothes like that but they’re too big and baggy but Johnny Bigg clothes are cut properly for bigger guys.
Does your wife influence what you buy or even do your shopping for you?
No that’s all on my own, I usually have a look on Pinterest. We do have a “stylist” on our team called Tim Nanai-Williams who loves to dress the team for events, but sometimes I feel like he dresses me like an eighteen-year-old! He’s the most stylish guy on the team, but he’s only 5 foot so he can fit whatever he wants. He tried to chuck me into skinny jeans once, but I can’t get my calves into them!
You’ve played in Japan and are signed to play in France later this year – do you enjoy travelling?
Yeah I do, I’ve done a lot of travel with the All Blacks but we don’t really get to see much of the countries or experience it as you go from rugby stadium to rugby stadium. I enjoyed living in Japan because I got to travel and live the culture and the lifestyle, it was awesome.
France is going to be a little bit different, I don’t really know what to expect as I knew what to expect when I went to Japan. Going to France is a whole new challenge but an exciting one. I’m really looking forward to it, I’ve got some good mates at the club that I’m going to, so I’m looking forward to reconnecting with them. My family is going to move with me, it’ll be difficult for them, but they’ll pick it up. I’m trying to learn French, but it’s hard!
Who is your idol? Why?
I had a couple when I was growing up – Keven Mealamu, and a guy called Michael Jones, he was my mentor when I was young and he was a great All Blacks.
Do you have any advice for other people who may want to pursue football?
Everything can always be achieved. My Dad always says if you missed out on the team, stick at the grind as there’s always a plan and always a reason for not making it this time.