Former All Black Conrad Smith is part of the Spark commentary team on the sidelines at the Rugby World Cup. The father-of-two says there are more important things than sport.
1 Can you give New Zealanders any advice on how to cope with the All Blacks' semifinal loss?
Most New Zealanders are pretty realistic and know sport's place in the world. It's great to be passionate about it but at the end of the day you can walk away and it doesn't really matter. There are far more important things like family.
2 Has becoming a father changed you as a person?
For sure. Becoming a father was the biggest factor in my decision to retire from international rugby. I loved playing with the All Blacks but once you've got kids the time away from home gets harder. For a World Cup, you're away for about four months. I realised, "I don't need to do this anymore."
3 What are the challenges in retiring from professional sport?
It's a big life change and unfortunately a lot of guys don't do it well. You've got to start at the bottom and earn next to nothing like everyone else did in their 20s. That's hard when you're in your 30s but you've got to bury your pride and put yourself out there. Rugby doesn't pay like soccer, so you can't retire completely, but if you've been smart enough to save you should have two or three years to find something you enjoy. It's important to keep up your fitness. I've been getting into running again. I've done a couple of marathons and a triathlon.
4 You played in the two previous World Cups. Has it been weird commentating this time?
I was pretty lukewarm on the idea when Spark got in touch. I don't see it as a career path but it's an opportunity that's come up and hopefully I can give a bit of insight to the viewers. I just enjoy watching now. I don't feel like I should be out there playing. I love seeing the way people react to pressure on such a big occasion. It's not life or death but its still fascinating to see how the team dynamics work in the big theatre.
5 What was your childhood in New Plymouth like?
I'm from a really close family. Dad was a policeman. He played a lot of backyard sport with the four of us. My two older brothers were my biggest rivals. When they went off to university, my little sister was the only one left, so she had to play me at cricket, basketball and tennis. I spared her from rugby most of the time.
6 You went to Francis Douglas Memorial College. My mate Paddy Gower went there — do you know him?
Paddy's a close family friend. He used to be my babysitter; he was a favourite — there were no rules when Paddy was over. To be honest, I think they only left him in charge a couple of times. We still talk regularly. Francis Douglas was a wonderful school. They don't shove religion down your throat but you get a strong moral grounding. My wife and I hope to send our kids to Catholic schools too.
7 How did you manage to fit a law degree around top level rugby?
I only got selected for Wellington in my final semester so I only had to juggle rugby and uni for the last few months. My grades took a big hit, but I got through. I hardly grew at all between the ages of 8 and 18; even my little sister overtook me. Then I shot up into a skinny beanpole for the first couple of years at uni. If I'd got selected in my second year, I'd probably have flagged the degree.
8 How did you develop a record-breaking midfield partnership with Ma'a Nonu?
It wasn't easy to be great mates at the start when we were both competing for a spot. We figured the value in getting the best out of each other mid-way through our careers when our coaches told us to develop a midfield partnership. We got to know each other better off the field and realised that despite being from completely different backgrounds we actually have a lot in common; we both come from tight families. That's a special part of sport; the bonds you form on the field that you carry off it are the ones you cherish most.
9 You've been admitted to the bar. Have you used your qualification yet?
I'm a part-time legal consultant for the International Rugby Players Association. It's not legal work per se but uses similar skills. We try to give players a voice in the running of the game. A lot of our work revolves around the World Cup. Player release is a big issue. Clubs are obliged to release players to represent their countries but a lot of French and English clubs are putting pressure on players to stay. That's hard for guys from countries like Samoa and Tonga that can't afford to pay them and it's stupid because the World Cup makes billions of dollars, some of which should go back to the players.
10 Is player advocacy a career option now you've retired?
Definitely. I really enjoy it. The plan when I retired a year ago was to spend two years exploring different options. I need to spend time doing things to see if I like them. I also do coaching with my club in France. I love all sport so there may be opportunities to work in other sports.
11 Do you think rugby is being professionalised too young in New Zealand?
New Zealand Rugby is world leading for a lot of reasons, not just the All Blacks. You only realise that when you come overseas. Our academy programmes are doing a great job of teaching rugby without leaving education behind and just letting boys grow up and learn life's lessons. The guys coming out are well rounded and that's why they're able to do a good job.
12 You moved to France two years ago to play for Pau. How long will you stay?
We don't really know. We came over thinking it might only be for six months. We wanted to experience living overseas and learn a language. Our son Luca's already a fluent speaker at 5 and our daughter Amelie's picking it up quickly at 2.
• Live commentary of the Rugby World Cup final - which kicks off at 10pm on Saturday - is on Newstalk ZB, Radio Sport, and through iHeart Radio and nzherald.co.nz. Spark and TVNZ 1 will screen the game live.