Wednesday, August 04, 2010

A chat with All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick

A chat with All Black legend Sean Fitzpatrick

We were fortunate enough to have an interesting chat with former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick recently. Sean told RD why he'd rather not wear a speedo, why Ireland can't beat the All Blacks, and we hear more about the infamous Suzie.

RD: Has it calmed down in New Zealand since the football World Cup?
SF: Im an unbelievable fan of sport and football has just gone off the radar. Theres a great trivial pursuit question too who was the only undefeated team at the World Cup? New Zealand, the All Whites, which is phenomenal.

I absolutely love it. My father said to me 'Son, you dont need to play rugby, you need to just play a team sport and make sure you enjoy it .' Theres more kids playing football in New Zealand now than ever before, so thats great. We just love sport.

New Zealand will get a taste of a World Cup next year, the Rugby World Cup. Whats that going to be like?
Itll be fantastic. Obviously I played in the world cup in 95. It was all in one country, everyone talking about it, everywhere you went there was flags. In 99 in the UK, it didnt quite give me the same feeling here in London because it was being played in Wales, and Scotland.. it wasnt quite the same feeling, whereas in New Zealand, it will be 6 weeks of rugby, and thats all the people will be talking about which is great.

Have you ever shed tears over the All Blacks not winning the World Cup?
I think in '95 I probably got pretty close. Aah you know, weve had our opportunities and we havent come through. We won in '87, and had the best players in '91 and worst team and we fell over. And in '95 obviously everyone knows what happened then.

So we've had our opportunities and at the end of the day, we got beaten so hopefully 2011 in New Zealand we can get another one on the board.

Any thoughts on the food poisoning controversy in 1995?
I dont think it was food actually, it was more probably the tea I think somebody said it was, wasn't it? I dont know - you'll have to ask Suzie.

Why can't the Irish beat the All Blacks?
I think theyve come close a few times. I think its all about having the belief that they can. Unfortunately the All Blacks tend to play pretty well against the Irish. I remember when I was playing we never wanted to get beaten by Wales, or we didnt want to get beaten by Scotland cause wed never lost to Scotland. Obviously thats the motivating factor when being in the current All Black team, that you dont want to be involved in that team that is the first to lose.

The Irish are a good team that need to be able to play well away from home, as well as at home, they dont seem to be that as well as they should. They just need to believe they can win. Its a bit like Wales at the moment. Im sure theres an underlying feeling that the legacy of the All Black jersey seems to intimidate them.

If you were in Martin Johnsons shoes what would you do differently?
To be honest, I dont know what he is doing. Im not a coach and unless youre on the inside of these organisations, who knows whats going on.

Have you ever done any coaching, and would you consider going that route?
I did a bit of management, but no, I havent done any coaching. Id never say never, but its not something Id really want to do.

Pieter De Villiers has said that he needs to coach his players to cheat to compete with Richie McCaw. What do you think of the way referees are interpreting the break down laws?
There are so many different ways to interpret the break down law. I think as players all we ask is for the interpretation of the particular referee is that he interprets it the same way throughout the game. I dont think theres a conspiracy against South Africa. I think at the moment Richie McCaw is interpreting it better than anyone else.

Youve had a great Tri Nations, but is it the World Cup NZ really wants?
Well, no, we need to win every game we play - thats my philosophy. But yeah, we think its time we won the world cup. Itll take a lot of hard work and a lot of momentum, and a bit of luck. So hopefully that will happen, but theres a lot of water to go under the bridge between now and when the tournament starts.

Do you feel the team are on the right track?
Yeah I think we're definitely going in the right direction. Before the Tri Nations I was concerned at the depth of New Zealand rugby, but now we've shown that we've really adapted to the interpretation of the new laws, they're fitter, faster, and they're working hard.

There's a number of young guys there, and there's a number of old guys there that are fit, fast, and want to win so... Weve got an outstanding captain, got a good coach... so we've got everything going for us, and were playing in our own backyard so, it all adds up to success. Let's hope so.

Tell us about your involvement in triathlons?
During my rugby career I did a bit of cross training, a lot of cycling.. a lot of swimming actually. I do the cycle leg (of a triathlon), because the guy doing the cycle leg gets a new bike. I thought that was better than a pair of speedos or running shoes.

Sean Fitzpatrick competed in the Hyde Park triathlon to raise funds for the Laureus Sport for Good Foundation, the Official Charity partner to the International Triathlon Union (ITU). Laureus still has fundraising places available for the ITU World Final in Budapest (September 11 & 12). For further information you can visit

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