Neil Sorensen has always been a straight shooting administrator and he continued that theme as he prepares to depart New Zealand Rugby.
After 17 years as general manager of NZR, effectively second in charge to chief executive Steve Tew, Sorensen announced his resignation on Friday. He finishes at the end of this month.
From ongoing battles with being the victim of sexual abuse as a child to his real reasons for leaving NZR now, Sorensen was typically open and honest in his exit interview with the Herald on Sunday.
"There were a couple of things at New Zealand Rugby I wasn't overly happy with," Sorensen said. "They were eating away at me a little bit and I didn't want to be that person who ended up leaving on bitter terms."
Sorensen considered leaving for 18 months. He feels NZR needs regeneration and that others are ready to step into his shoes. At 56, the timing was also right to start his next career — one part of which will feature public speaking about the need for macho Kiwi men to ask for help.
But, from his perspective, all is not well at NZ Rugby headquarters.
Sorensen is widely known to be the whistleblower in a Listener investigation, published in 2016, into allegations of sexually charged texts allegedly sent by an NZ Rugby manager to two women in 2011. NZ Rugby maintained there was no evidence one of its employees was involved.
While reluctant to discuss details, Sorensen confirmed the fallout from such incidents caused ructions.
"There were a couple of things I just didn't agree with. I knew then that it was time to move on. It just took a while to get to that stage, and I think that's because we were rebuilding a house.
"There was one particular incident I wasn't happy with but I won't get into that. I didn't want that — as I got older and staler in the job — to fester.
"I have seen over the years in our company, and others, people who end up getting bitter. I didn't want to be that person, so I knew I had to move on.
"I feel like I'm leaving in an honest way with my dignity to the end and going out on a pretty good note."
Throughout his time with NZR, Sorensen has regularly fronted in times of trouble. When players step out of line, or off-field scandals hit, he often steps in to offer support, perspective, and publicly discuss the situation.
His comfort around incidents that spook others stems from dealing with a dark childhood.
He says he harnessed experiences of being broken physically and mentally, and combined those with being a father, husband, brother, uncle, to life as an administrator after playing over 100 games for Wellington.
"I'm a flawed individual who can understand where people are at. When I'm dealing with kids who are in trouble on or off the field, I feel really comfortable with their situations. I think that's helped over the years.
"In all my time, there's probably only one I thought was anything other than a young kid making a dumb mistake. That's something I've been quite proud to bring to the game."
In his next chapter, Sorensen plans to use his challenging upbringing to help others by teaming up with Wellington's One for the Blokes, a mental health organisation that stages speakers in workplaces and prompts Kiwi males to confront their demons. He will also keep his hand in corporate governance.
"It's part of my life now. My story is essentially I am a survivor of sexual abuse when I was a kid; quite horrific sexual abuse for a period of two-and-a-half years," Sorensen said.
"Like a lot of kids, you stack it away until my son Toby was born and my life fell to bits. I had a lot of care and help and still do.
"I'm one of thousands that have challenges in their lives; I just happen to be on the sexual abuse side. That's me. I live with that now, and I'm looking to do more in the future around speaking out against it."
Despite recent clashes, Sorensen has many fond memories of his time at NZR.
He has been sideline for great All Blacks victories and the Black Ferns' World Cup triumphs in 2010 and 2017. He savoured sharing the same room and car rides with Sir Brian Lochore, Sir John Graham and Sir Colin Meads.
He loved witnessing East Coast and Wanganui contest the Meads Cup final in Ruatoria, where the spread at the marae afterwards rivalled any wedding celebration. And he had his eyes opened by touring with New Zealand Maori, learning where players came from and what it meant to them.
Sorensen was also a major driver of NZ Rugby's far-reaching respect and responsibility review. He describes Eleanor Butterworth's appointment to project manager as one of NZR's most critical decisions. Butterworth has since given advice on sexual consent and healthy relationships.
Asked where NZR needs to improve, Sorensen does not hesitate to single out greater equality across race, gender, age, ethnicity and disabilities.
"We just need to be a bit more open, honest and authentic in the fields of gender equity and diversity. We're learning as an organisation; at the start of a journey."