Rubbish run gives Lowen a workout
Today we start a new Saturday feature looking at what has become of past Waikato sporting heroes and we kick it off by firing some questions at one-test All Black and former Waikato and Chiefs centre Keith Lowen.
Q. Where are you living now?
A. After leaving Hamilton I told everyone I was never coming back here to live, I was going to live in Tauranga once I did my thing overseas (still working on this), but I'm back in Hamilton.
Q. What are you doing with yourself? I understand that you own a business? What does that involve and does it keep you fit?
A. I tell people I am a garbologist. I pick up bags of household waste from the kerbside. In layman's terms I am a dusty. I am currently in the process of purchasing a contract from Waste Management. I got on to this through my boxing coach.
He put me in touch with my old sparring partner at the gym, Wayne Maxwell, who had purchased a rubbish run while I was in Japan. Wayne told me that doing the rubbish run would keep me fit while I decided whether I would stay in New Zealand or continue with my rugby in Europe.
While I was deciding my future I did the rubbish run to keep my fitness up and an opportunity to purchase a run with Waste Management popped up and this helped me to make the decision to stay here in New Zealand. I love this job. It keeps me reasonably fit (it's only delaying the inevitable).
I get a good work out lifting between 12 and 15 tonne a day. Sometimes some of the boys I used to play rugby with help me out Liam, Sione, Callum, Matt Blain. Stephen Donald has said many times that he would help out but has yet to show his face.
One of the best parts of this job is that I start at 8am and I can usually finish anywhere between 12pm and 2pm. I aspire to be as good as one of the older guys who is 55 years old, needs a hip replacement, lifts 20 tonne a day and is always finished by 11.30am.
Q. Do you still play rugby.
A. After I made the decision to stay in New Zealand I vowed I would never play rugby again. Diet went out the window, training went out the window we had bread and chips in our cupboard for the first time (not that they stayed there long).
My first Kiwi summer back home I spent 90 per cent of it sitting next to a barbecue with my chilly bin full of beer pure bliss.
My playing weight went from 102 to 112kg. By the time winter rolled around I was missing rugby and everything that goes with it, especially the camaraderie. So I dusted off my boots and played the second round of the club competition for my old club Hautapu.
Q. When did you get back from overseas? Where did you play?
A. I got back from Japan just over 12 months ago. I played for the Cheetahs in South Africa for one year and then played for the NEC Green Rockets in Japan for two years.
Where I lived in South Africa was quite similar to the Waikato. It is a farming region big on its sport.
The boys I played rugby with were awesome, I was invited to many brais and consumed much biltong. South Africans are very passionate about their rugby.
It was good to see the Super 14 through the eyes of a South African team. They definitely do it tough when they tour, being away from home for up to six weeks.
I noticed within the team that the last two weeks of the tour the boys were starting to miss home and were finding it tough.
I also noticed that they did not have the natural flair and skill of a Kiwi player, so they have to train extra hard to achieve this, which was in my eyes humbling because as Kiwis we take this for granted.
The hardest thing about living in South Africa was getting used to living in the enclosed compound where my apartment was.
There were bars (exactly like a jail) on my doors and windows, however, this did not stop burglars raiding my place the second week I was there.
Q. Have you continued to follow the Chiefs and Waikato since ending your time in those teams?
A. When I got back from Japan I was pretty much over rugby but because I still had good friends playing it was natural for me to want to watch their progress.
I like watching the Chiefs' game plan and the way they play a running style of game. This was always the game plan when I was playing but the Chiefs team this season have almost perfected that game plan, something we always tried to do when I was playing.
As for the Waikato NPC squad, it seems like they are constantly rebuilding every year.