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🏉 Frustration & regret in retirement
"Jerk store! That's what I should of said!!!"
So far retirement and transitioning from footy has been really tough. Mostly due to realising there are so many skills I need to learn in order to achieve what I’ve set out to do.
For the first decade of my working life, the skills on my resume include:
cleaning out rucks
And to my surprise… none of these have come in handy!
I never called a play or decided the direction of the team, and as a prop, I would just get the call and focus on executing my role within the team’s system.
Head down, bum up.
But after a massive failure last year, it became clear to me that I was lacking some necessary skills.
So after some reflection and with the support of my wife, I decided to go back to uni to get the knowledge I was missing.
First up was a simple writing and public speaking subject.
“This will be a breeze” I thought.
But in the first assignment (write 3 paragraphs explaining bitcoin) I really struggled to get my thoughts out of my head and onto the paper.
Despite knowing in my head what bitcoin was, I was unable to get the information onto the page, and what I did get out was an incoherent mess.
I was shocked at how hard I’d found it, and when Covid-19 hit (forcing the pub to close and uni to pause) I had some time for this realisation to sink in.
I realised that the massive fuck up of the previous year was not due to my lack of technical understanding about what I was doing, but had come from my poor leadership and my inability to clearly communicate what I was thinking.
My mind was all jumbled up.
Lots of information in there, but in a big messy pile inside my head.
Being unable to accurately express what I’m thinking has left me with an overwhelming sense of frustration.
Not being able to pull out the right thought at the right time has driven me mad, as I would rarely get the right message across when talking with someone.
I hope the process of writing this blog will help sharpen my thinking, organise my thoughts, and improve my communication skills.
Also, I hope that by sharing my troubles and thoughts, I might be able to help others who are experiencing similar issues to the ones I’m facing.
That aside, I’m keen to write about what you would like to know and thanks to former Brumby and Wallaby prop Ben Darwin, for his suggestions.
If I had my time again, I wouldn’t have done anything different on the field or with my money.
But I do have one regret and it relates to what I’ve already mentioned.
The biggest regret of my career was with the Wallabies when I made a speech to the team following the 2nd test against the British and Irish Lions in 2013.
I’d just played my 50th test, and we’d narrowly won (thanks to a late try by AAC and an ice-cool conversion by Christian Leali’ifano) to force the series to an epic game 3 decider.
Traditionally, when a player plays a milestone match (debut, 50th test, 100th test, etc) the player is presented with a cap, and then says a few words to the team.
After accepting my 50th cap, I turned to talk, but I was overcome with emotion.
Growing up, I never thought I’d get to play a single game for Brumbies, let alone the Wallabies, and to play my 50th test on such an occasion was incredibly special.
I’d watched every minute of the 2001 series, and to be a part of a once-in-a-career series made my head spin.
I can’t remember exactly what I said, but wish I’d had my emotions in check, and spoke clearly.
As a guy who’d just played his 50th test, I wish I’d been a calming presence heading into one of the biggest weeks of our careers.
Instead, I rambled.
And while I don’t think it contributed directly to the 41-16 drubbing we copped a week later, my inability to radiate a sense of calm is my biggest regret.
The pain from the loss in game 3 wasn’t so much from the loss itself, more due to the fact that were blown off the paddock, despite the first 2 games going down to the wire.
Such a disappointing end to an amazing series.
As I get older, I’m realising the impact of what we say (and how we carry ourselves), has on the people around us.
I was hopelessly unaware of this throughout my career, too caught up inside my own head, and it’s something I plan to not repeat in my second career.
Obviously I won’t be playing in another Lions series, but the next time I reach a pivotal moment, I won’t let my emotions get the better of me and prevent me from communicating what is needed.
Of course, there are other things I would do differently if I had my time all over again, but I didn’t know any better at the time.
I just did my best.
Thanks again Ben for your suggestion, and if anyone has a topic or question they’d like me to write about, please comment below.
Thanks for reading!