Character the key

22:25, Nov 21 2012
WORK ETHIC: Former All Blacks rugby prop Greg Somerville now works in Kumeu with colleague and salesperson Arlie McPherson.

Former All Blacks prop Greg Somerville reveals he was usually overlooked for sports teams as a child.

But sheer grit and determination led to an illustrious rugby career for the humble Kumeu resident.

"I didn't expect to make the team easily. I needed to work hard to make things happen."

He went on to achieve 66 test caps - the most by an All Blacks prop until Tony Woodcock of Makarau overtook him.

A series of minor injuries led Greg to retire from the sport last year and settle in Kumeu where he works as a technical field representative in farming.

He played his last test for the All Blacks against the Wallabies in Hong Kong in 2008, then played England before returning south to add experience to the Rebels first forward pack.


The 34-year-old now devotes more time to his three daughters and fishing as well as coaching rugby teams when requested.

Greg made his provincial debut for Canterbury in 1998 and launched his Super rugby career in 1999.

"Probably the work ethic was the thing that got me noticed,"he says.

Brother Daniel is the Hawke's Bay Rugby Development officer.

Daniel played rugby for the New Zealand Secondary Schools team and the NZ under-19s with Woodcock until a serious back fracture forced him to hang up his boots.

"It was pretty hard to watch me play for my country when he was just as capable - but he's been fantastic support."

Greg scored his only try during his 42nd test in a match between Albany and Fiji about 2004. Fellow team-mates had been teasing the forward about holding the record for the most games without a try.

"When I scored it was meant to be a serious moment but they were all laughing. It must've given them a shock."

Mr Somerville says his own motivation was personal performance and the goal to build character.

"It was the satisfaction of coming off the game knowing you've put in the right preparation and you've done everything you could to make sure you've played well," he says.

"When you don't feel like going for a run or going to train, character is what makes you still go and persevere. You can always work on ball skills and agility but you can't always improve your character."

Norwest News