Nick McCashin is a former Bay of Plenty representative who has played professionally in England, France and Spain. Nick is currently playing and coaching in Scotland where he is writing and developing content for www.prorugbyclub.com to help players excel on and off the field.Read more exclusive columns
One on one with: Mike Delany
Nick McCashin 29 Apr 2017 Getty Images
QUICK TAP: SIR COLIN MEADS SHARES HIS LIONS MEMORIES
You are now considered a veteran in the game. How have you made rugby your career for so long?
I guess I am a veteran of the game now. I'll be 35 in June and feel very fortunate that I've been able to play the game I love for such a long time. The game continues to get faster and the impacts are greater. I can't see careers lasting as long as they have done in the past.
My professional career started a little later than most so maybe that is why I've been able to play for as long as I have done. There are a lot of young guys who think that it’s over once they haven't cracked it in their early 20's. I feel it’s important to realise that many players mature into better rugby players at different stages and may have a better understanding of the game later on in their careers. The fact that I am a first five-eighth helps as we tend to stay out of as much contact as possible!
Rugby has helped with all aspects of life and probably much more than what rugby followers can see from the outside. Rugby has given me a lot over the years and has made me more resilient. It has given me the ability to cope with different pressures and adapt to different environments. In the past seven years, I’ve played in NZ, Japan, France and England. All of these countries have different approaches and a different way of doing things. I've learnt to become more open minded about the way the game is played. For example, the game is played differently in each country. In the UK and France, you need to be more clinical and play for more territory. The game is much more structured. For example, it is not uncommon to scrum for a penalty or go to the lineout to force a penalty.
What was something you were told was impossible for you in Rugby?
I was told many things when I was young when it came to rugby. I was told I was too small to play professionally. There was this belief that a small boy from Rotorua wouldn’t make it and I needed to go to the big rugby schools in Auckland if I wanted a chance. The funny thing is I never grew up wanting to play professionally. I just enjoyed playing most sports and thought I might play cricket or football ahead of rugby. It wasn’t until I was enjoying my club rugby in Hamilton that I decided to give professional rugby a crack.
When I made the All Blacks I felt that I was playing on instinct and not trying to overthink the game. I was putting a lot of work into the different skills as a ten. I was working hard on passing, kicking and outside of the training ground I had a better understanding of game management. This helped with decision making on the field. I knew I had to be much better defensively so started working hard on tackle technique. Since then I have really enjoyed that side of the game.
What are your predictions for the DHL NZ Lions Series 2017?
In the UK we do a lot of analysis on teams and players and we go into games with certainty about how to execute the game plan and where the opportunities are. I think the Lions will find it difficult to do the same analysis on All Blacks players in Super Rugby as it is not as structured and often looks like organised chaos. There are patterns and structure in place with the Super Rugby teams but when you think you know their pattern of play the team can change and play a completely different style of rugby. The All Blacks are the best in the world at playing what is in front of them.
It will be a fantastic series, very physical and competitive but I think the All Blacks will be too good.
What does life look like after your playing career finishes?
It’s something I've thought about a lot and I am looking forward to life after rugby. What will I do? Well, I am not exactly sure but I would love to get into coaching. Currently, I am working towards my Level 3 coaching certificate. I would ideally like to be involved with rugby in some form in the future. I like the idea of being a skills coach for a team. However, every man and his dog would like to do that so you are lucky if you get the opportunity. After playing overseas for so long I still believe I have a few seasons left in me. Perhaps I could add some value as a player-coach back home.
What will you miss most about the game?
Probably the freedom, the relaxed schedule and the camaraderie amongst the team and players. The good thing is that you make life-long mates through rugby. We learn to work hard when you have to. We face challenges throughout our career which makes us stronger people. As players we develop a lot of transferrable skills that can help outside of rugby.
PODCAST: Riki Flutey chats about playing both for and against @lionsofficial plus much more!
LISTEN: https://t.co/AVv4f636Ev#LionsNZ2017 pic.twitter.com/jYOxO0DPxP— All Blacks (@AllBlacks) April 26, 2017