Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Twelve Questions: Ryan Hoffman

Aussie league player Ryan Hoffman talks about his new role leading the Warriors — who play Manly on Saturday after winning their last two games — and his favourite Star Wars character.

1 How do you feel about becoming one of the most recognisable people in the country as Warriors' captain?

It comes with the territory, being the captain in a one-team country. I'm looking forward to embracing everything that comes with that. I have to embrace the expectation, I can't let it become a burden and drag me down. I've got to enjoy it.

2 Your father Jay was also a well-known league player. What was that like growing up?

Dad retired when I was 5, so I was still quite young. I got my first love of rugby league from being around him and as a kid I just wanted to do what he did. I was very proud, I would go to training in Dad's old jerseys. So it's a privilege, now, to be thought of as the "son of Jay Hoffman".

3 Did you spend some time in New Zealand as a youngster?

Dad got transferred to Wellington for work when I was 11. It was a massive move for us.

I did my intermediate schooling at Hutt Intermediate, and played rugby union for Hutt Old Boys. I loved my time in Wellington, even though it was at a time when the Wallabies were at a bit of a low point so I copped endless stick at school.

4 I understand you excelled at rugby, even playing at Athletic Park?

Yes, I played for Wellington under-13s against Manawatu (from memory). It was a pretty big thing because at that time the All Blacks were still playing tests there, so that was quite a thrill. I mean, it was a horrible old ground - you can imagine with the wind blowing through - but it was quite exciting as a kid.

5 Now the important stuff. Is it true you are a bit of a Star Wars tragic?

Tragic or nerd, it's a bit of a fine line. I loved The Force Awakens. I saw it twice at the movies and the first time I just about gave a standing ovation to the opening credits. It's made me impatient for the next two.

6 Who is the best character in the history of the series?

It's hard to go past Han Solo. He was the rebel with a cool spaceship, an awesome best mate and he got the girl. He was the bloke everyone wanted to be. But the new lead, Rey, I'm really interested to see how things pan out for her.

7 I've been told you are a huge film buff generally, known to reel off movie quotes to your teammates. Is that right?

Yeah, I do love movies and I guess I'm just talented at retaining useless information, like movie lines and general trivia. It didn't help me at school, but I can certainly settle some arguments.

8 And to put it all out there, you are also a big Dr Seuss and Harry Potter fan?

With Dr Seuss, I started reading them to my son, and there was one in particular that got me: Oh, the Places You'll Go, which, as a father, contains some pretty powerful messages. I got a bit emotional, when I look at my son and daughter and wonder about what life has got in store for them and the things that they will do, the kind of life they are going to lead.

And as you can tell with Star Wars, I love a good saga, and Harry Potter certainly falls into that category. The guy who plays Neville Longbottom is a rugby league fan and it's a life goal to befriend him on that basis.

9 What else do you enjoy outside league?

Before kids, I used to play the odd game of golf. Nowadays I like fishing and have recently really gotten into building Lego with my son. Star Wars Lego, of course. My boy has got no choice.

10 You have two kids, Zach (nearly 3) and Mia (6 months). Plans for any more?

No. The wife was adamant she only wanted two. Actually, when we were in the delivery room for Mia, I reckon if they had allowed her a sharp implement she would've have taken the scissors and nipped that in the bud right there [laughs]. Having two is hard work though: they say it's parenting for real when you have two.

11 What's the hardest part of being a professional league player?

Pre-season. It's a necessary evil and three months of hard work - it can be tough to get through. In a way the games are the easy part because you always love playing.

12 As the new captain, what does leadership mean to you?

To me, leadership is about trust. The players in the team need to trust the messages that you are giving, that you are pointing the team in the right direction. But you can only get that trust by doing the job yourself: it has to be a "do as I do, not as I say" kind of mentality. I also need the help of the other players in our leadership group. I can't just be the dictator saying it is my way or the highway. I've got some great experience around me.

- NZ Herald

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Michael Burgess is a sports writer for the Herald on Sunday.

Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday. He was named the 2013 New Zealand football writer of the year and was a finalist in the Sports Reporter of the year at the 2014 Canon Media Awards.

Read more by Michael Burgess

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