Twelve Questions: Jeff Wilson

Broadcaster Jeff Wilson is one of a handful of New Zealanders to have represented their country in both rugby and cricket. But the father of two says he's had the time of his life since he stopped playing professional sport.

Jeff Wilson says it took a great deal of hard work to hone his sporting skills. Photo / Dean Purcell
Jeff Wilson says it took a great deal of hard work to hone his sporting skills. Photo / Dean Purcell

1. What is the biggest misconception about success?

That it makes life easier. Sometimes the more you succeed the greater the challenge. Success, particularly in sport these days, means being in the public eye. The fact is people judge you on what they see. When I was playing we got away with a bit more than the guys do now - nothing much really but we had a lot of fun in what we were doing and that might be judged a bit differently now. There's a different type of pressure on players these days and that would have posed some challenges for me. When I was playing, my private life was always my private life.

2. Richie McCaw still manages to keep things pretty private though?

Yeah, but what's Richie ever done to make us want to delve into his private life? He is our greatest All Black, I believe, and he's given us no reason to doubt his character, so we don't go looking for faults. He may not have any, but if there are, we don't want to know.

3. How much of your sporting success was natural talent; how much hard work?

There was an element of talent, but it took hours of hard work to realise some of that potential. Mum and dad never pushed me at all. They kept my feet on the ground and taught me that the hard work never stops. Southland was an amazing place to grow up in sport. Great opportunities. The saying was "if you are good enough you are old enough". I played for Southland in rugby and cricket before I left school.

4. Did you ever suffer from ego issues?

That's something you'd have to ask other people. What I do know is that I'm very different now to what I was. Now I have an awareness of things outside of sport. I was focused and really intense about the game. I worked hard and enjoyed winning and competition sometimes brought out the best and worst in me.

5. Your life seems, from the outside, like a dream run: when was your lowest point?

There were many missed opportunities, but the 1995 World Cup final stands alone as my biggest disappointment. Bledisloe Cup is always a good time of the year - I get a lot of media attention then. Ha. In my second test against England I missed six kicks and we lost. The next game was the George Gregan tackle and I sat on the bench for five games before that. I coped pretty badly with it. It was devastating and I was only 20. But you work harder and luckily I've got a bad memory. I only remember half a dozen of the All Black games I played.

6. Who called you Goldie?

The one and only Marc Ellis. When Marc labels something, it sticks.

7. Do you miss your hair?

No way ... I save a fortune on the maintenance.

8. Did rugby and cricket make you rich?

Rugby didn't make me rich but gave me some time to work out what I might like to do with my life. I've done so many things since I finished playing. Trained racehorses. We grazed dairy cows outside Christchurch - I had no farming background though [wife] Adine did. I worked for the Otago Rugby Union, coached North Harbour and now this opportunity [commentating cricket and rugby for Sky TV]. I love variety and new challenges. I've had the best time since I stopped playing and I sometimes think, imagine if I'd kept going for another five years. I wouldn't have done all this.

9. Wikipedia says you retired because of personal differences with then All Black coach John Mitchell. Is that true?

No. It certainly wasn't about someone else. It was the fact rugby hadn't been the same since my father passed away and I wanted to see if I could play cricket again. I was 28 and it was a good time to do that.

10. Would you like to be All Black coach one day?

There is no doubt I love coaching, and one day would like to return to the sidelines but not anytime soon.

11. What kind of a father are you?

You'd have to ask Adine that. I love spending time with my boys, outside more than inside. They're a handful. I was no picnic as a kid. Petulant, my mum says. We have high expectations for our kids but they are only 3 and 5 so we have to give ourselves a reality check now and then.

12. What do you think about the Quade Cooper boos?

Over it. He's actually a good bloke with a chequered history who hasn't hurt the All Blacks for a long time. Let the man play ...

- NZ Herald

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