Interview with All Black and award winning Rugby Player Chris Jack - February 2010

Chris Jack

Oli Hille and Chris Jack


Chris Jack was an All Black from 2001 – 2007 and is currently in the frame for a return to the national side after two years playing overseas. To date he has played 67 tests. He has scored five test tries for the All Blacks.

Chris Jack was named 2002 New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year.

Chris Jack was also in the Canterbury Crusaders team that won the Super 12/14 competition in 1999, 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2006. He has so far scored a total of 7 tries in the Super 12/14 competition. He is in the current Canterbury Crusaders 2010 team.

The interview was conducted with Scott Robertson (they are friends) in attendance. This made the interview even more interesting, fun and insightful. I wish I had videoed the interview, although that may have spoiled the effect. It was a privilege to chat to them both. Chris Jack is very down to earth, humble and honest.

Oli Hille

The Interview

Lifestyle Questions

OH: What advice would you give yourself if you could talk to yourself at age 17?

CJ: Enjoy your moments and enjoy your achievements.

Sometimes as players we are guilty of not taking in the moment. We often just look for the next goal or the next achievement.

OH: How can a young person today achieve great things?

CJ: Be prepared to do the work and push yourself.

Ask for help. Listen to help from wherever you can. That is true no matter what age you are.

OH: What wise words have been important to you in your life?

Gilbert Enoka (All Blacks' mental skills coach) said to me “Believe in yourself”.

He also got me to repeat affirmations in front of a mirror, things like:

“I am a great player”
“I am skilful”

[Scott Robertson joins in at this point and agrees that Gilbert Enoka has had a significant influence on him as well, and he has used similar techniques.]

OH: What is the best advice you have ever received?

CJ: When I was young and had just made the All Blacks I got the following advice which was really helpful:

Keep your feet on the ground.
Be the person you actually are.

Be polite and humble.
Be proud of who you are.

OH: What mistake have you learned the most from?

CJ: First, I got paid a lot at a young age and I should have taken lots of people’s advice. Sometimes in that situation I just made bad decisions with the money.

Second, in the middle of my career I got too comfortable and didn’t push myself. I got a bit relaxed.

For example in 2002 I got New Zealand Rugby Player of the Year. But I remember Richie McCaw got IRB International Player of the Year in 2006 and at the time Richie said to me “I’m going to be the first person to win it twice”. I thought to myself “Why didn’t I have that attitude after 2002?”

[Richie McCaw did win the IRB award again in 2009.]

I also remember that Todd Blackadder said to me after I won the award in 2002 that most players have a poor season the year after winning a big award, and that happened to me.

Scott Robertson joins in: “The same thing happened to me after I won the Super 12 Player of the Year in 2000.”

[Interviewer’s note: This is very salient advice. When you rise to a peak in your professional life in whatever area it is, it is critical to maintain the momentum. They key attitude is “How can I do it again?” Or “How can I do it better?” rather than settling for the achievement and losing momentum.]

Chris Jack: It is even worse with real superstars. When I played with ___________ (All Black, name deleted) the coaches didn’t know what to do with him. He was so far above everyone else that he didn’t need to be pushed, even though he should have been. The coaches didn’t know how to push him because he was so good.

Scott Robertson: Yeah I’ve seen the same thing. Even the very best players need to be pushed and most of the time it just doesn’t happen.

OH: What activity has been the biggest waste of time in your life?

CJ: Well I basically wasted a year and a half of my life at university because I was there full time and I came out with nothing. I should have used my time better.

OH: Who are your heroes and role models?

CJ: My older brothers who were good rugby players. I really wanted to step out of their shadow.

My dad. I really admire his work ethic.

Buck Shelford and Serge Blanco (rugby players).

Brad Thorne who is 35 and who is still playing for the All Blacks.

I also admire hard workers who didn’t have as much natural talent as other players around them but who achieved to a high level, like Todd Blackadder.

At this point the conversation between Chris Jack and Scott Robertson really opens up.

Scott Robertson: “When I was at school there were way better players than me. But some of them went off with girls, and some of them smoked dope. The reason players get to the top is focus and commitment.

Chris Jack: “There are some players like ____________ (All Black, name deleted) who is the most naturally gifted loose forward I’ve ever seen but he is lazy and doesn’t get the most out of himself.”

They both go on and site numerous examples of players who could have been All Blacks if they had been dedicated and disciplined.

OH: What are the reasons you have succeeded while many others who have tried have not succeeded?

CJ: Desire to prove myself. I was the “little brother” in my family. I wanted to prove myself and test myself. Being the youngest I felt like I had to go and grab success.

OH: If a score of 10 means that you have lived your life to its fullest potential, what score out of 10 would you give yourself on your life to date?

CJ: For sport (rugby) 8-10 out of 10.

For utilising my finances, and networking with my friends 2 out of 10.

I regret taking my relationships with my friends for granted.

OH: What would you have had to do differently to be able to score a 10?

CJ: Include my friends in what I am doing and be available for what they are doing.

Learning the skill of networking.

At this point the conversation between Chris Jack and Scott Robertson opens up again.

Scott Robertson: “You wouldn’t believe the people we have access to. CEO’s of major corporations. Top business people. Doors open wherever we go.”

Chris Jack: “And world leaders. I’ve met Nelson Mandela, the Queen, Prime Ministers.”

Scott Robertson: “Hardly any of the players are good at networking with these people. We could get their business cards and call them later. But we never do.”

Chris Jack: “I wouldn’t know how to go about it. Networking is not a skill I have.”

Scott Robertson: “It’s a really wasted opportunity because most of these business leaders would be happy to take our calls.”

Oli Hille: “Yes and it could open up huge business or coaching or whatever opportunities later on, all over the world.”

Scott Robertson: “Yes that’s right.”

What does a person need to do if they want to realise their dreams?

CJ: You’ve got to dream it first.

Then write your path, set goals, get advice, and talk to someone who has done it before.

I first set a goal at age 16 to make the New Zealand under 19 team, which I achieved.

[Interviewer’s note: This advice is gold. It is very similar to Scott Robertson’s answer to the same question even though that interview was a month earlier and Chris Jack had not seen the Scott Robertson interview.]

CJ (continues): You also have to celebrate your achievements.

OH: If you could start again and dedicate your life to one cause, what would it be?

Play rugby. It’s not about wealth and fame, it’s about being happy. Rugby always made me happy. Life is all about creating happiness.

What is the most important lesson you have learned in life?

CJ: For rugby: it’s just a game.

Be a person you can be proud of and be happy.

Look yourself in the mirror and be proud of who you are.

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