When did you start at BGS?
I started in 1996 in Year 9. I came down from Rockhampton Grammar School and into Harlin House. Con ‘CJ’ Primmer, a 1951 BGS Old Boy and former Wallaby, was a friend of my father’s in Rocky and he put us in contact with the School.
What were your first impressions of BGS?
It was daunting at first. I was leaving home for the first time and moving to a bigger city, but Harlin House was like a family.
What was it like boarding at BGS?
There was great respect for the senior students and they really looked out for the junior students. All the boarders really did take an active role in school life. I was very proud to call myself a member of the House. I recently returned for a meal in the dining room and I can definitely say that the food has improved in the last 20 years!
What are your memories of BGS as a student?
My schoolmates are still some of my best friends. We had, and still do have, a great level of pride in the School and the opportunities that it gave us. Something that really differentiates BGS is that it doesn’t matter what a student’s background or upbringing is, everyone is treated equally and I really think that is important. I would say for many BGS Old Boys, humility is a really important trait. No matter how educated, talented, rich or cool you think you are, how you treat people ultimately tells all. I am a big advocate for the School’s bursary program and hopefully our year group can do something really worthwhile in that space.
What extracurricular activities were you involved in at BGS?
Cricket, swimming, basketball, Drama, Music, Duke of Edinburgh and rugby. Cricket was definitely my favourite school sport.
Do you think BGS prepared you for life after school?
No doubt. The access to quality teaching, facilities, and experiences like the Outdoor Education Centre are first class. I think the School provides an excellent holistic framework for a young man to reach his potential and also operate on the edge of his comfort zone. One thing that sticks out for me about the School is that it taught me how to work for something. Nothing was ever given or received without work. Nil sine labore.
What did you do after graduating from school?
When I left BGS in 2000 I enrolled in a Bachelor of Biomedical Science at UQ. I studied full time for two years until I started playing rugby full time with the Queensland Reds. It took me another four years to complete my science degree. I always intended to study medicine when I left school but rugby tied me up for the next 15 years. I think after a few injuries I lost my interest in medicine!
What was it like getting selected for the Reds and then the Wallabies?
Those things are amazing when they happen. I played my first game for Queensland in Pretoria, South Africa when I was 20 and my first test match in Sydney when I was 22. It’s always a huge honour to represent your state or country. I have never been overly sentimental in the sense that I always focused more on what I was going to do when I got there, rather than just getting there.
What does leadership mean to you?
For me leadership is about inspiring the people around you to reach their potential. You have to be 80% cheerleader and 20% iron fist. I am a big believer in the concept that the best leader isn’t the loudest, and as a leader you aren’t the most important person in the room. Humility and respect would be two of my absolute core values and I believe these characteristics were shaped throughout my time at BGS.
Can you explain the parallels between sport and business?
The major area where there are similarities revolve around the concept of team and how teams work. Also, being resilient and overcoming adversity is something you need in both sport and business. In terms of my own plans, I am in the process of establishing what my post-rugby life looks like. I am really looking forward to a new challenge and hopefully I can find something that gives me as much buzz as rugby has over the last 15 years.
Can you tell us about your role as ambassador for the 2018 Invictus Games?
Having been involved in sport for most of my life I have witnessed firsthand how powerful it can be as a vehicle for recovery from injury and mental illness. While the injuries that we sustain in rugby are nothing like what our service men and women face when they defend our country, there are definitely similarities in terms of being part of a team and having that support network in place while recovering or rehabilitating. We investigated the possibility of having the games in Australia in 2018 and now it is a reality, which is really exciting for everyone involved.
How important is family to you?
Family is very important to me and if there is one thing I am looking forward to in retirement, it is spending more time with my family. My wife and I have two boys and a girl. Being a great father is the next major challenge in my life!