Cherie Howie is a reporter for the Herald on Sunday.

Same aim, different game for two champs

Super rugby Blues prop Charlie Faumuina and jockey Mark Du Plessis at Ellerslie. Photo / Cherie Howie
Super rugby Blues prop Charlie Faumuina and jockey Mark Du Plessis at Ellerslie. Photo / Cherie Howie

What do a 130kg, 1.84m rugby player and a 51.5kg, 1.57m jockey have in common? Actually, quite a lot. For one, both are champions.

Blues' prop Charlie Faumuina was part of the All Blacks' world cup winning squad and Mark Du Plessis is a three-time Auckland Cup winner.

Over the next day and a half, both will do battle in their respective sports - Faumuina at Eden Park in the derby clash between the Blues and the Hurricanes tonight, and Du Plessis when he saddles up for Auckland Cup day tomorrow.

He's not racing in the Auckland Cup - his horse has been scratched - but will be in the saddle for six other races during the premier racing event.

Both athletes begin their day at their homes in South Auckland, Faumuina in Manurewa and Du Plessis in Karaka. For Faumuina, a good sleep-in is the best start to a game day. In Karaka, Du Plessis will have been up for more than four hours on a big race day.

Before the little hand hits five he's riding, putting in a good hour before breakfast.

From here on in it's all the same for the talented pair.

Both down a hearty breakfast - for Faumuina it's a bowl of porridge, for his fellow athlete it's two eggs on toast. Then it's chill time, a nap or two, or spending time with the kids and watching TV. It's all about not letting the occasion get to you.

Once both reach their respective bases, the focus on preparation continues.

At the Blues' headquarters, Faumuina eats his final meal - usually chicken and mash - four hours before the game, puts in some weights and plays memory match games on his phone. His final act is a bit of "self-talk" before going on the field.

At the racecourse, Du Plessis likes to arrive 90 minutes before his first race. A chat with his fellow jockeys, studying the racing forms and a cup of tea, he says, keep him calmly on task.

- NZ Herald

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