From rucks to drug detection for Errol Brain

Last updated 05:00 17/08/2014
HEART OF STEEL: Errol Brain loves what Tana Umaga has done for Counties.
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HEART OF STEEL: Errol Brain loves what Tana Umaga has done for Counties.

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He played for the Blues and the Chiefs, captained NZ Maori and is a Counties legend. He has also been an international coach but, now, ERROL BRAIN is the star of this week's BackChat.

Hi there, Errol, how are you?

Good thanks.

BackChat just typed your name into Google and it says you're working for New Zealand Drugs Detection Agency, that's a bit different from being a rugby player, how did you end up in that line of work?

When we came back from Europe where I was coach of the national team in Portugal, we made the decision to make sure I was around more, we have three daughters, so I moved myself out of rugby and got into something different.

The opportunity came up to buy into this business, which we did and we're thoroughly enjoying it. It's a bloody good thing because we're dealing with drugs and alcohol in the workplace and it's keeping us busy.

So do you go into work places and test everyone for drugs?

It's along those lines, but it's around health and safety. And it's about the ability of companies being able to drug-test in their workplace compliantly, if and when the situation arises.

It's also about making sure they have policies in place and have consultation with staff.

When you go to workplaces, do people say ‘hey, you're Errol Brain!'?

I do get recognised, but I'm older, slower and greyer now. But it's still nice and it helps at the Drugs Detection Agency, because I get to deal with people who knew me as a rugby player.

What was it like coaching Portugal?

It was a great experience for me and my family to be there.

n terms of the rugby, it was hard work because they don't have a lot of money, resources were hard to get hold of and it was tough to put in place a programme that's competitive because the expectations are high.

I learned a lot about myself there, in terms of how I deal with things and manage people.

The main reason why we came home had nothing to do with rugby, it was a decision around our daughters. My eldest daughter, Molly, had to get herself ready for university and we wanted to do that in New Zealand.

Can you speak Portuguese now?

Yes and I can also speak French and Japanese, and I'm at night school now learning how to speak Maori.

Do you think you'll ever get back into rugby again?

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It depends on what level. I still love the game and it's given me so much in my life.

I like to stay involved, I'm heading up to America at the end of the month to do some work with rugby for 10 days and I still do a bit of consulting work up in Japan.

I also help my local high school, Bethlehem College, who Bull Allen coaches. So I'm still connected to the game, but just at a different level.

What was the highlight of your playing career?

Captaining the Maori All Blacks was the pinnacle of my career and we beat England in 1997, that was a huge achievement.

Also, my time captaining Counties, where we went from a very minnow team to one that could compete with the big provinces. The big thing for me is that with all the people I played with, we're still mates.

We don't catch up every week, but when we do it's like we haven't been apart. There is always that banter and good fun that comes with it.

So rugby has been great for you hasn't it?

Very much so, I'm really thankful for rugby. So many of the experiences I had from being a player or coach I use in my everyday life, in business, as a father, or being a mate.

What do you make of what Tana Umaga has done with Counties over the past couple of years?

I don't mind saying it as a grown man, but at that game last year where they took the [Ranfurly] Shield off Hawke's Bay I had tears in my eyes. That monkey has got off Counties' back.

What Tana has done to that team is fantastic, there are a lot of players there now who are professional rugby players, which is great. He has been outstanding for the union and region.

- Sunday News

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