With the Rugby World Cup (RWC) in the final stages and rugby fans engaged in long hours of discussing and predicting the RWC Champion, the NEWS met up with former Springbok rugby player and Longmeadow employee, Warren Brosnihan, for some insight on Springbok rugby and his take on the 2015 Cup.
Brosnihan also known as Broz talked about his transition from rugby player to the corporate world.
Brosnihan, originally from Durban North, ran onto the field for the Sharks, Lions and Blue Bulls.
NEWS: When did your rugby journey start?
Warren: My folks took me to mini rugby at the age of seven or eight, where I played club rugby with 10 on each side. Those days we played with bare feet. Later, when I was in standard two, I started playing at school level.
NEWS: What position did you play?
Warren: I played number eight predominantly, especially in early years. The funny thing is once you hit your big teams such as the provincial sides, you get picked out of your position – that’s when I started playing flank but I never really played predominantly flank at provincial and international level. I played at six, seven and eight.
NEWS: Which unions did you play for?
Warren: I played for the Sharks, Lions and then the Bulls. While I was oversees, I was lucky enough to play a year of rugby league in Australia in 1996, in the National Rugby League Championship. I then played in the UK for two-and-a-half years. I played for Ulster in the Heineken Cup. Closer to the end of my rugby career I played in Italy.
NEWS: How was it playing for the Sharks?
Warren: I played for the Sharks from U/21. My first game for the Natal Sharks was in 1994, when they were still known as the Banana Boys. In 1996, I went over to Australia and played league rugby for a season. I came back and joined the Lions in 1997. After 97, I wanted to get back to Durban and by 1998 I was in Durban and finished with the Sharks in 2001.
NEWS: What can you tell us about your days as a Lions player?
Warren: I was there when Ray Mordt was the coach. Myself and André Vos, who eventually went on to coach South Africa, joined the Lions. I was only there for the season.
NEWS: What was your most memorable moment on the field?
Warren: It is so difficult to pick one. There’s a lot of things that you remember, like being a youngster and going on my first tour with the Sharks – it was a big thing for me, but I will have to say my first game playing for the Springboks in 1997 at Loftus against Australia will always be number one. You can’t really top that but there were a lot of other things, like being in the Currie Cup finals with the Bulls.
NEWS: What does it feel like being on the other side of an All Blacks Haka?
Warren: It was different because my mom is a New Zealander and my dad’s South African, so there was always an association for me. Even in Super Rugby, when I toured New Zealand, it was challenging for me. It was like walking down the same path my grandfather had walked. It was a big thing for me. To face the Haka was amazing. It is a supreme motivator and it is an unbelievable feeling. The All Blacks Haka makes you realise that you have to get ready for combat. It’s a challenge that they lay down and we respect it a lot.
NEWS: What are you currently doing?
Warren: I’ve been with GNLD or Neolife for over seven years and we’re a nutritional company. Our main goal is to provide people with the opportunity to live a better life by having the correct intake of nutrition and cleaning their houses with products that come from nature.
NEWS: How was the transition from being a rugby player to having an office job?
Warren: My last three years playing for the Bulls was stressful. I worried about my young family, especially when you have children and your only income is sport. You worry about what you will do when that stops. Before I joined GNLD, I was working in the orthopedic business doing hip and knee replacements and assisting in theatre as I had studied as a chiropractor. Two years later I joined GNLD. People think it’s all glamour for a rugby player. The sponsored car that I had when my contract finished in 2006 drove out of my driveway and suddenly I had no car, no secure income for that month and I had a wife with a 10 month old baby. I used the values I obtained during my rugby days and applied it to every day life. I did the hard work and it paid off. I am happy and still continue with commentary on SuperSport.
NEWS: As a former Springbok, were there any traditions or superstitions you believed in?
Warren: I was never superstitious. I just made sure that I ate my meals, had enough sleep, drank my water and relaxed before the game started. There is no real superstition other than being properly prepared before the game.
NEWS: What do you think about Heyneke Meyer and who should be the next SA coach?
Warren: He has obviously gone under strain with the Japan game but he has a job at hand. If he takes the team through all the way to the final, people will be singing from a different hymn sheet and forget about the match against Japan. Right now I would stick with the current coach. I would only make the change if we have the right guy for the job and right now we don’t.
NEWS: What do you think went wrong when the Springboks played against Japan?
Warren: I think Japan was really well prepared by Eddie Jones and it was probably one of the greatest games of the World Cup. It pains me to say this but I think we underestimated them. We also made a lot of changes to our team and didn’t stick to our structure and thought we would just rock up and win the game, which I can understand if you look at where Japan is in rugby and where SA is. It goes to show that you must never underestimate the opponent. As SA, the Japan game is a bitter pill but it leads to a whole a lot of good for the game internationally.
NEWS: What advantages do you think the Springboks currently have?
Warren: Well I think that the tries are going to start drying up for all the teams as we go into the final stages. I think that our forwards will come into the game more as our two lock forwards, Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager, have been absolutely sensational. A guy like Duane Vermeulen, who came into the game ‘undercooked’ and with an injury, will get better after every game. If we stay in the tournament our team is only going to get better and better. We are very physical and very abrasive.
NEWS: As a former flank, who do you think is the better player – François Pienaar or Richie McCaw?
Warren: François Pienaar is a fantastic leader and he was a good player but I think Richie McCaw’s records speaks for itself. He has captained over 100 test matches and his winning percentages are second to none. I am South African but Richie has been an absolute legend in the game and he has changed and managed to keep himself current the whole way through.
NEWS: Which provincial team do you support?
Warren: That’s a very tough question to ask me because I am a commentator. I played for the Lions, predominantly with the Sharks and then a bit with the Bulls. Once you have moved you become more loyal to the coaching staff. For me the Sharks can play the Bulls, I don’t really mind who wins – you become neutral.
NEWS: Which two teams do you think will be in the final of the RWC?
Warren: I would like to see SA and Australia in the final.
NEWS: What do you predict Eddie Jones will mean to the Stormers?
Warren: I think that it’s a fantastic signing. I think that the Stormers need a breath of fresh air and Eddie Jones will be able to take them to the next level. I would love to see him at the Stormers and witness what he can do with them.