"Fozzie," he said.
"Got your interview tomorrow?"
"Good. Go in hard. Okay?"
"Go in hard, and remind them of all the success we had."
"And how you getting the job as All Blacks coach will be a smooth transition."
"You're the right man for the job, mate," he said. "And I'll tell you something. All those years we worked together, you were a hell of a lot more than just my yes-man."
"I know that," I said.
There was a panel of six who sat behind a long desk. I sat in front of them, and they started by asking me a few tough questions.
"What's your name?"
"Fozzie," I said.
They sat poised with their pens and paper, and they all wrote it down. But they must have wrote a few other remarks, too, because it took them a long time while I sat there in silence.
One of them dozed off.
I said, "Would you like to hear my vision for the All Blacks going forward?"
"Yes. Yes, of course. Go ahead."
After a few minutes, two of the other panellists fell asleep. But the rest must have taken what I was saying very seriously, because they wrote down every word.
When I finished, a fourth panellist nodded off. The remaining two spent the new few minutes writing, even though I didn't say anything.
After a while, I said, "Will that be all?"
"Yes, I think we've heard enough. Thank you for coming in."
The other panellists woke up, and we all left the room. But I realised I'd left my phone by my chair and walked back in to get it.
I glanced down at their desk. Five of the writing pads were filled with doodles and the sixth was a crossword puzzle.
"Fozzie," he said.
"I hear it went very well."
"Well," I said, "I showed up."
He said, "That's the main thing."
Got the job. I thought I'd go out and celebrate, so I went down to the hardware store and bought some acrylic paint and a new brush.
I'll be spending a fair bit of time in my office at home, plotting the next few exciting years ahead in charge of the All Blacks, and I thought it'd be nice to give the walls a fresh coat of paint, make it look nice.
I covered everything with a white sheet and put on an undercoat. Then I went into the kitchen and made a cup of tea. I drank it looking out the kitchen window and saw the mailman arrive. I went out and came back inside with the power bill.
I went back into the office and gave the walls a second coat, then I made another cup of tea and drank it in the office while standing and looking at the walls.
Leigh walked in, and said, "What are you doing?"
"You know me," I said. "Watching the paint dry."
"Still watching it, aren't you?", said Leigh.
I was standing in my office looking at the walls and in my head were set plays, combinations, attacking lines, defensive tactics, test veterans combining with new players, and the long road towards the Stade de France on October 21, 2023.
"Yes," I smiled.