One of the many great things about playing rugby with the Force is getting to meet people from all over who have many different stories to tell. These stories often have a similar theme of overcoming tough times – be it illness, bullying or managing a condition like CF. Despite the hardship people always manage to come back and succeed and in this blog, I am going to share how I’ve not only overcome setbacks but used them to improve and learn.
For those that follow my career you can probably remember in 2013 I tore my ACL, which required a full knee reconstruction cutting my season short. For the first time in my career I missed Super Rugby and felt a bit lost – what does a rugby player do when he can’t play? The weeks and months that followed saw me sitting inside watching TV and gradually getting depressed, not a healthy place to be in. After recovering I returned the following year and had one of my most successful seasons and made it onto the Wallabies squad – Once again I was on a high when my season was cut short and my lifelong goal, like my pectoral muscle, was ripped away from me when playing the All Blacks in Brisbane.
When you play rugby for a profession, not being able to play is tough, it’s your livelihood, so copping two seasons in a row was particularly brutal. I was able to overcome it because I had supportive people around me including friends and family plus some great people in Perth who helped me keep positive and motivated.
To overcome the extra time I suddenly had on my hands, I worked with charities including Cystic Fibrosis Australia, where I am an ambassador, and started working in finance to create a normal life for myself outside of rugby. In 2014, I got to take this normal life even further when for six weeks I lived in Brisbane with my girlfriend Verity, who has been a fantastic support, and introduced me not only the joy of café brunches, but also introduced me to a new group of people in Brisbane and a world outside of rugby.
As I recovered I was determined to use these setbacks to grow as a person and a rugby player so I am pleased to say I was able to take away some valuable life lessons, here are just a few:
- Life is about meeting new people, trying new things and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone,
- A good support network can help you get through anything life throws at you,
- Not being able to do something can make you appreciate just how much you WANT to do it, and
- Being courageous and committing to what you’re doing is important but if it falls over tomorrow it’s not the end of the world – always have a backup plan.
I apply these lessons to every challenge I face, even on the rugby field, for example, during a game there can be many swings in momentum. Sometimes you’re ahead, the momentum is with you and you should take it and run with it but if it’s against you: keep a cool head, dig deep and fight on.
From my experience when you’re coming back from a setback some people will judge you on your failure or expect you to be weaker when you come back, but I think it’s more important to focus on how you come back from adversity, because that really shows your strength of character.
My motto is to rip in and make the most of now! Feel free to comment below on and tell me about a time you’ve come back from a setback.