I cannot imagine what it must be like to go from being a young man or woman from a humble background and suddenly finding yourself with a contract worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and an expectation that, overnight, you're a role model to the nation's kids.
If you have talent, you have probably been earmarked for success at a very early age: invited along to special training sessions, been selected for development squads. The expectation that you will go to the very highest level will have been inculcated at a very early age.
But it's a bit like being caught in a rip tide at Piha – you know how you're supposed to behave, but the experience of actually being in one is vastly different to having a theoretical knowledge.
All professional sports struggle with protecting their players – protecting them from the people who would exploit them and protecting them from themselves.
I remember running into a Super Rugby coach in a hotel in Palmerston North. I was off to MC a function; his team were playing the next night. We chatted in the lift and he said the hardest thing about his job was not coaching the players or bringing the best out of them – it was finding things for them to do in the downtime when they weren't training or playing.
He was struggling a bit in Palmy on a Friday night. I can understand how difficult that would be. You have 20 odd young men, bodies honed to as close to their physical best as they will ever be, plenty of money and plenty of time. That's a recipe for disaster right there.
And over the years there have been a few fires that the NZR and NZRL have had to put out. Not so many with Netball New Zealand – or at least, none that I've heard about.
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Australian rugby league officials have finally taken a hard line with the shocking behaviour of some of their entitled, abusive, misogynistic players - and not before time. The Australian Rugby Union should count its lucky stars that the biggest problem they have is a clean-living Christian who wants to shout his rather narrow interpretation of Christianity from the technological equivalent of the roof tops.
Now, in order to help young players transition from teenage superstars to highly paid professionals, there is a handbook featuring a wide range of life skills and has been vetted by experts. Netsafe, the New Zealand Transport Association and various leading organisations involved with mental health, alcohol awareness and financial services have all given the tick to the advice offered to young players.
Indeed, the handbook offers valuable advice for all teenagers. If you're going on a date after meeting online, meet in a public place and sort out your own transport. That means you're in control and can leave when you want to, with the added bonus that the other person doesn't need to know where you live. If you've sent a nude pic and you're regretting it – contact the other person and ask them to delete it – good luck with that one!
On issues of consent – don't pretend to be an All Black to get into somebody's bed. If you mislead them about your identity, that's not consent. When it comes to social media, the handbook advises that as a general rule of thumb, you should only post content that you'd be happy for your grandparents to see.
And, I think one of the most important pieces of advice: cultivate interests outside rugby. Rugby is what you do, not who you are. Pornography, coming out, the pitfalls of credit cards – it's all covered and it's great stuff.
The New Zealand Players' Association should be congratulated on producing such a proactive, sensible, easily understood guide for life. And secondary schools should be asking for copies they can put into classrooms.
Our kids would have a much easier time in life if they read, and followed, the rugby players' guide to life, the universe and everything.