What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
COLIN: For me, being away so much. Verna had to cope with everything. She was Mum and Dad to our children.
Personal chit-chat with this revered rugby icon and All Black legend …
1. A great night out for you would go like …?
COLIN: Verna and I enjoy going into Te Kuiti or even Hamilton. I’m a meat man, so it’s lamb shanks or sirloin for me – and Verna would probably have fish. Mainly, though, we’re homebodies these days.
2. Who do you most admire, and why?
COLIN: Sir Wilson Whineray. We’re a similar age, and we got into the New Zealand Colts about the same time and toured Sri Lanka. He was always a very kind gentleman, and he helped me a lot. I was just a farm boy, but he taught me how to behave in different countries, how to say the right things and treat people with respect. Wilson was an expert in these things. I was very nervous about meeting the Queen, but he just took it all in his stride. And he was a fabulous captain.
3. What’s the No.1 key to a great marriage?
COLIN: Goodness gracious me, maybe you should ask Verna! I think you need to know that you will always have disputes – but you have to get over them; you can’t hold grudges. We grew up in the same town, went to the same school. We courted for five years and married at 21. She has always been my greatest support.
4. What’s the hardest thing about being a dad?
COLIN: For me, being away so much. Verna had to cope with everything. She was Mum and Dad to our children. She took them to all their sports games and practices. If I wasn’t playing rugby I was working. When I was touring my Dad helped with the farm, and the local rugby club turned up for haymaking. I loved seeing the children grow up and finding out what sports they enjoyed. Unfortunately our family suffers from what we call ‘Meads-knees’ – which has cut down on the opportunities. These days, of course, I’m a granddad of 14. My grandchildren are the spice of my life, and now I have more time to spend with them.
5. What’s your all-time most embarrassing moment?
COLIN: Well, once I was playing in Cardiff Arms Park and collided with the Welsh halfback. He did what we called a ‘hollywood’ and was carted off with two minutes to go. The crowd was booing me. I went to see him after the game, and his wife got stuck into me. But that night he was dancing around. I’ve always held that against him!
6. What’s keeping you busy these days?
COLIN: I get around the country a lot speaking to groups. And we have a big section, with vegetable and flower gardens. I grow all the usual things – like cabbages and silverbeet and potatoes. Verna’s not so mobile, so I’ve inherited the flower beds as well. I have a hell of a time trying to remember the names of the flowers.
7. If you could do anything in the world right now, what would it be?
COLIN: For me personally, I’ve often wished I’d had the money to buy a private island where the only way to communicate was by phone. I’d love the solitude.
8. What’s one thing about New Zealand that you would change if you could?
COLIN: I’d change the whole idea that Maori and Pakeha are separate. I think that attitude is old hat. We need to see each other as equal New Zealanders, and get on with life.
9. What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in rugby since you retired from the game?
COLIN: Well, of course, it’s gone professional and that’s altered everything. The rules have changed a lot. We used to stand shoulder to shoulder in the lineouts – whereas now they’re a metre apart. We old fellas don’t think it’s changed for the better, because the game is now played for TV – not just for the crowd at the park. When I watch it on TV I can’t always work out why the penalties have been granted, so it’s more complicated these days.
10. What’s your prediction for the World Cup?
COLIN: The All Blacks have to win! If we don’t, it’ll put New Zealand rugby back years. I think it’ll be a southern hemisphere final. France is always a dark horse, but they’re not firing too well at the moment.
Issue 2 2011 Take 10 (424 KB)
Issue 2 2011 Take 10 (424 KB)