When I fell in love with rugby Josh Kronfeld was the best player in the world at the position that I wanted to play. I wanted to grow up to be Josh Kronfeld. He was great. He was a vital part of one of the best ever All Black teams, the 1996 Incomparables. Kronfeld not only did all the dirty work, he always seemed to pop up right on Jonahís shoulder to grab the glory pass when the big man finally got brought down.
Last week I was lucky enough to have a half hour to chat to my hero about being a scarfie, an All Black, a B-Grade celebrity, and a general top bloke.
You studied in Dunedin twice, once before you were an All Black and then again after. How did the two times compare?Well obviously they were very different scenarios. The first time I could just misbehave whenever I felt like it. I've always been focussed when I'm studying, but the second time I was at Uni for a reason, and my focus was a little bit better.
It was quite funny going back as a 33-year-old. I went to more 21sts than I've been to in my entire life. People would try to make me do keg stands. It's not like I couldn't still do it, but I didn't need to do that shit anymore.
You have carved yourself out a niche as a TV personality. It probably started with Celebrity Treasure Island, how did that come about?I said no and I said no and I said no and in the end it was the fact that they offered me enough money. It surprised me actually how much I enjoyed it, especially the first one. Being chucked on an island that was absolutely stunning with a whole lot of other really top blokes, sitting around the fire talking shit. I loved it. We also had beautiful women parading around in practically nothing for 16 days. We only did about 2 hoursí work a day.
And Dancing with the Stars?My partner really loved the show, and she said, ďcan you do it?Ē so you've got to do what you've got to do. I had an amazing dance partner who was an amazing woman to get to know. It was quite a discovery to find out how much I enjoyed dancing.
You have a reputation for being outspoken, like the time you called Paul Henry a dickhead on live TV or the time you shot down Richie McCaw. Is that just what you are like or is it a conscious decision to try speak your mind?I don't think I've said anything outrageous, and I haven't said anything that I wouldn't say to the people face to face. For whatever reason people thought that I said Richie McCaw was a bad player, but I never said that. I've always said that Richie McCaw is one of the greatest to ever play the position. At the time Richie was playing with an injury but still doing incredibly well. I never said that he was playing badly. Thatís just how it was reported, and thatís frustrating.
How did your outspoken personality go down during your time in the All Blacks?It was an environment where senior players pretty much ruled the roost. They spoke their mind on a regular basis. If they told you were playing like fucking shit you were probably playing like shit, and thatís how they would say it to you. In todayís game you could never say something like that because the player would sulk or be upset or think that you hated him. I still think it's worthwhile speaking your mind sometimes.
You came from what many would consider a golden era of Scarfiedom championed mostly by Marc Ellis, what does the future hold for students in Dunedin?So much has changed now. We used to misbehave, and when things got a bit wayward the police would just give you a rap round the knuckles. If anything got damaged it would just need to be fixed by the next day.
Now, you instantly go through the court systems, get fined, and end up with a criminal record. I can remember a couple of boys were being a bit too cheeky, so they just got a smack (from the police). That would never happen nowadays. They would probably end up in court with some stupid fine on their record.