Quick Q&A with Pita Alatini

We’re very glad to bring you this, our latest edition featuring Pita Alatini. Have a safe and happy Christmas break from team ORB

Q: You played right through NZ rugby, who was the best player never to play for the All Blacks?

“ROMI ROPATI. I played inside Romi for a lot of years through age grade rugby and also senior level. His rugby league background saw him as one of the best penetrators in the game. His ability to run into a hole at pace was awesome sight to watch. Also defended very well too”.
The Smith & Nonu midfield combination was possibly the best midfield combo ever- Who are 3 other world class combos?

“Bond and Murray, Torvill and Dean, Hadlee and Chatfield!”

Q: You played in the match widely regarded as the greatest game ever played vs Australia in 2000-(won by the All Blacks 39-35). What are your memories of that game?

“The match was so fast. One minute all out attack . Then the opposite as Aussie come crawling back. This was pretty much the pattern for the rest of the game until the big guy crashes over to win the game for us. I remember not being able to talk or move for 20 mins after the game. I sat in my cubicle sipping away on a protein recovery drink!!!”

Q: What has changed in the culture since you were in the All Blacks?

“They are very professional now. The trainings are more advanced and so they are stronger and fitter than of us from back then. They have also been educated on more on what an all round professional athlete is. The way they conduct themselves on and off the field. It may be boring but it is just the new era of Pro rugby”.

Q: John Mitchell- did he deserve to coach the All Blacks?

“Haha. In my books no, but that maybe a bit harsh because I got dropped in his time. I felt that Wayne Smith was still the right man for the job at the time. I felt we were building a good squad towards the 2003 world cup. We had a narrow loss to the Aussies and the gap was closing and they knew it. I just think the timing was off and that John Mitchell needed to coach a little longer to prove his worth”.

Q: You were caught in the Japanese Tsunami in 2011. Has the experience of living through this changed you?

“Yes I was. It was an unreal experience. One which I would never want anyone to go through. I was very lucky that I was by my family when the Earthquake/Tsunami hit. It has definitely changed me. I now appreciate the small things more and am so eager to capture any opportunities”.

Q: What challenges confront retiring professional players?

“Not planning ahead of retirement. Some guys did plan ahead but still struggled for at least 2 years to adapt to life after pro rugby. I certainly did. However I have been fortunate to be introduced to some great people who I’ve worked hard with to establish a plan for the future. Knowing how important networks can be has also been revealing. Even the KC school network has been valuable.The more active we stay in our networks the easier life after rugby becomes”.

Q: What got you involved in the ‘Like Minds’ awareness campaign?

“At first I was happy to be a face for the campaign, but the more I learnt about it, the more I started to understand how common mental illness is in our community. There is help out there and so I wanted to help people know that mental illness can be dealt with and also that educating the supporting members of the group is just as important”.

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