1st Grade Fringe
- Jun 7, 2012
- Reaction score
His attitude problem is his fault, nobody else's, and he always seemed able to land a good contract.Feel like Mateo was the ultimate unfulfilled potential along with Carney on his day could do things not many players could do but he attitude to training from all reports seem to let him down. The run to the 2011 GF was his best thought he was close to an Aussie jersey that year and was unlucky.
RapidChat: Lance Hohaia
JENNA MORTON | THURSDAY, AUGUST 03, 2017
Back in 2002, New Zealand native, Lance Hohaia, catapulted into his professional rugby career at the early age of 19. Since his retirement (nearly three years ago), his transition back into the "real world" has come with its own unique set of ups and downs. Thankfully for him, his journey back to Grand Rapids with his family is proving to be a positive one.
CHOOSING MICHIGAN, RAPIDCHAT, SPORTS & RECREATION
Rapid Growth: How did you feel when you first signed your contract with the New Zealand Warriors?
Lance Hohaia: I was thrilled, obviously. I was still in high school at the time and it was literally a dream come true for me. I remember feeling overwhelmed with all of the attention that received; it was certainly a big change for this small town country boy. It was a very surreal experience thinking back now.
RG: What significance does the Rugby World Cup have in your career?
LH: Winning the World Cup is the highest honor in our sport. Every player and every rugby playing [in] every nation wants to win that trophy. It’s only held every four years, so it's similar to the Olympics where everyone has four years to plan and prepare for that opportunity. I was part of the team that won the Rugby League World Cup in 2008. Winning that particular tournament was easily the highest achievement in my sporting career.
RG: What was the life like off the field?
LH: I would compare the culture in rugby to being a member of a very large family. The most successful teams I've played on had a real family chemistry. We wouldn't want to let each other down and that trust transferred onto the playing field. We would spend more some with each other than we would our families on some occasions, so we had no choice but to rely on each other. We would train together, play together, party together… and deal with the trials and tribulations of life together.
RG: What have been some of the challenges you have faced transitioning out of your professional sports career?
Photo by Elizabeth TibbeLH: I think an athlete faces many challenges when they enter the “real world,” but some challenges are significantly harder than others. When I retired from my sporting career, I felt like I had lost my identity. Being an athlete was all I'd ever known for my entire adult life and then one day I wasn't an athlete anymore. It's often said that an athlete dies twice in their lifetime. The first being when they retire from their sport.
RG: What brought you across the globe to Grand Rapids, Michigan?
LH: My wife is American and a lot of her family is based here in Grand Rapids, so it made sense for us to settle here over living in New Zealand. It wasn't an easy decision to make, but my wife and I feel like it is the right thing for our family. New Zealand is a beautiful place and it will always be home for me, but the cost of living there is much higher and there are more opportunities here in the U.S for us and our boys.
RG: What are some cultural differences that you have faced between Grand Rapids and Hamilton, New Zealand?
LH: I haven't really struggled with any cultural differences. I’ve traveled to and from the U.S. a lot over the past ten years, so there isn't anything that has surprised me. There are actually a lot of similarities between where I grew up and Grand Rapids. The people here are friendly and optimistic about life; they love sports and the outdoors. It’s a very active community which all makes sense to me. I’m pretty happy living here.
RG: What lead you to assistant coaching the GVSU rugby team?
LH: I reached out to the head coach, John Mullet, via email. I told him about my background and said that I would love to get into coaching rugby. We met for a coffee the next week and he offered me the assistant coaching role on the spot. I've thoroughly enjoyed working with the team. We play throughout the fall, so rugby season is nearly upon us.
I also coach for a sporting company called Atavus Rugby & Football, who are based in Seattle. They are an official partner of USA Rugby and once a month I fly to different parts of the country to coach rugby at their USA Rugby Academy Camps and thats been really fun. I've really enjoyed giving back to the sport that gave me so much.
RG: Lastly... what's the cultural significance of the Haka dance?
LH: The Haka is a traditional war dance, or challenge, of the Maori people (indigenous people of New Zealand) that was performed by warriors before battle and usually against opposing tribes or foreign invaders. The Haka signifies strength and prowess and was used as a form of intimidation. All New Zealand sports teams have adopted the Haka as a pre-game ritual, but the success of the National Rugby team on a global scale has made it widely known around the world. It is a large part of our cultural identity and it pays respect to the history of country. It can also be used for special occasions including weddings, funerals, acknowledging great achievements, and welcoming distinguished guests.
Awesome- 2 of my sporting heros growing up.Ex-sports stars Nathan Astle and Whetu Taewa find adrenaline fix in sprintcar racing
Mat Kermeen11:39, Jan 09 2019
The staggering success of their sporting careers might not have crossed over to the speedway track, yet, but two former test stars say the buzz of just being in a sprintcar field makes up for a lack of chequered flags.
There's not tens of thousands in the crowd, no extensive media coverage and few, if any, autograph hunters but Nathan Astle and Whetu Taewa wouldn't have it any other way.
Astle, a record breaker with the bat for the Black Caps, and Taewa, the man who orchestrated the Warriors first ever try, are accustomed to success on the big stage, with the silver fern on their chests, but surprisingly they are getting more of an adrenaline kick from being strapped into a 635kg rocket ship that produces more than 900 horsepower.
Astle, who played 81 tests and 223 ODIs for the Black Caps, started in speedway back in 2010 but has undergone a stop-start career due to family commitments.
He lives in Canterbury but races alongside Taewa out of Cromwell.
STUFF Nathan Astle celebrates his record-breaking double century in Christchurch back in 2002.
Due to restrictions in his New Zealand Cricket contract, Astle was unable to compete in speedway during his playing days but has been interested the sport most of his life.
"I've always followed speedway from a young fluff," he told Stuff.
"Dad used to take me out to Ruapuna when the bikes were there."
PHOTOSPORT Whetu Taewa was a key man for the Warriors during their inaugural Winfield Cup season in 1995.
Astle started his own racing carer in modified sprints - effectively a baby sprint car - back in 2010 and following two seasons moved to sprintcars.
So what's the difference between facing deliveries from Shoaib Akhtar or Brett Lee at 150kmh to driving a sprintcar at 160kmh?
"Adrenaline difference between the two sports is probably not a comparison at all. Cricket's pretty laid back," Astle said.
He might not intimidate his rivals like he did at the batting crease but Astle is loving his time behind the wheel.
"It's awesome adrenaline, a big buzz and pretty enjoyable.
"The adrenaline when you're out in a sprint car amongst 19 other cars, close together racing, it's something I keep telling people you can't explain unless you've sat in the car, been involved in it and actually had a drive," he said.
Despite his 16 ODI hundreds, Astle, who was always in a hurry with a bat in hand, is best known for his test match record-breaking innings of 222 against England in Christchurch back in 2002.
"That's one day I'll never forget. Something that will stay with me for a long time," Astle said.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF Former Kiwis league player Whetu Taewa is cradled back to the pits by two tow trucks following a crash at Nelson earlier this season.
He scored 222 from 168 deliveries, a knock that included 28 fours and 11 sixes.
His double ton came from just 153 balls. That still stands as the world record for the fastest double century in test cricket.
"The 222 would probably be the closest to the sprintcar, that was an amazing day, it was fast paced I suppose for a test match game, the same as a sprintcar."
Astle, who is not a religious watcher of cricket nowadays, spent hours upon hours training for cricket but said the time commitment with speedway is also demanding.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF Former Black Cap turned sprintcar racer Nathan Astle will contest the New Zealand championships at Cromwell on February 1 and 2.
"I've got a lot of respect for everyone in the speedway world. It's probably the cruellest sport I've ever come across with the highs and lows.
"But everyone, they get on with it, the hours, the travel, obviously the money that they spend to get out each week on the track for something that they love doing and don't get any reward out of is unbelievable and I think if a lot of people came behind the scenes and see what the guys do I think they'd be pretty blown away."
Taewa, who first represented the Kiwis when he was just 18, was a key figure in the Warriors' inaugural season back in 1995 and went on to play for the North Queensland Cowboys the following year.
In 1998, Taewa was playing centre for the Sheffield Eagles' in their 17-8 upset victory over Wigan in the 1998 Challenge Cup final in front of 70,000 people at Wembley Stadium.
But Taewa, a West Coaster who also represented Canterbury, agrees with Astle the adrenaline buzz of sprintcar racing is tough to beat despite his stellar career on the league field.
"The adrenaline is a lot higher and to be fair probably much more enjoyable too," Taewa said.
The six test veteran and New Zealand Māori representative also played for Hull Kingston Rovers during his time in England. He started competing in speedway around 2009.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/STUFF Nathan Astle with Jason Scott, who has played a key role in Whetu Taewa and Astle racing sprintcars.
Taewa, who is based in Cromwell, was introduced to the sport via the production saloon grade by the late Daryl Ainsley.
He was later persuaded into sprintcars by fellow Cromwell racer Jason Scott.
Taewa, who still does a small amount of rugby league coaching, said the two sports are "totally different".
He always had an interest in motorsport in his younger days but was never hands on.
"Pretty much before I started, I didn't know anything about cars," Taewa told Stuff.
"I was a late starter you might say."
Taewa, who is also dabbling in other forms of motorsport, described his Kiwis debut, the Warriors inaugural match and the Challenge Cup victory as his career highlights.
Astle and Taewa will contest the New Zealand sprintcar championships on February 1 and 2 in Cromwell.