ALL BLACKS DON’T CRY: THE FILM
In the late 1980s, New Zealand All Black John Kirwan is young, famous and considered by many to be the best rugby player in the world. But in his private moments Kirwan is wrestling with a darkness that threatens to end his career, and life.
This is the short film version of John Kirwan’s powerful story – a narrative drama by Julian Shaw about the power of hope in the face of an all-consuming darkness.
“When you come from where I come from, a man is not really supposed to ask for help. He’s supposed to cope, and be a man. Whatever that means.” - John Kirwan, Tokyo, 2010
Daniel Carter on John Kirwan
Ever since I could walk, it seemed that rugby was a huge part of my life. I grew up loving the All Blacks, wanting to be one and following everything about them.
I was only 4, but can still recall watching the first World Cup and being pulled along by all the hype of the occasion as the All Blacks secured the greatest prize in their rich rugby history.
Along with the rest of the nation, I was dragged in by the whole tournament, and top of my favourites was John Kirwan.
That try he scored in the opening game against Italy was breathtaking and it just seemed right he should score another in the final to kill off the French. There was no argument. JK was my special hero – I wanted to play like him and score tries like he did. I followed his career through to its conclusion with the All Blacks. Whenever I played, I tried to impersonate JK. He just stood out.
Later on I marvelled at the exploits of others like Andrew Mehrtens and Graeme Bachop, but even when JK switched his allegiance to rugby league late in his career, I continued to follow his progress.
I was lucky enough to meet him in the early stages of my All Black career. We became good friends and I have stayed with him and his delightful family in Italy.
It was reassuring to discover that my hero on the field was equally special off the field. Too often people find out their idols are very different in real life, but JK was very down-to-earth, a very genuine, caring sort of bloke. He makes time for people and he was very helpful to me, talking about his experiences and discussing how to handle being in the limelight.
The first time I met him, he had come down to my shop in Christchurch to do an interview for television. We did the job and he stayed around afterwards to chat, and we found we were on a similar wavelength. He gave me his details and suggested we get together again in the future.
JK was the marquee player of his era. He revolutionised wing play with his power and speed. His deeds were just magnetic at that first World Cup and beyond. I did not necessarily want to play on the wing, but I did want to play like him. He wanted the ball, he was always about scoring tries with his mix of strength, sidesteps, fends and pace.
During his career JK also managed to indulge his love of surfing and has even managed to persuade me of the benefits.
I started to learn and was looking forward to getting away to some spots like Biarritz a few times during my time in Europe, until I got injured.
While JK was a marvellous All Black, he has also shown me how to keep a good balance in my life, the importance of keeping my mind occupied with a variety of things away from rugby. He is a busy coach, but he values his family networks in Italy and New Zealand. He also eases the clutter when he goes surfing. I would suffocate if I was breathing rugby 24/7. You have to keep things fresh to deliver your best work.
- Excerpt from My Sports Hero, by Wynne Gray, Published by Trio Books
2 Comments for this entry
Terry mcgregor July 26th, 2010 on 9:31 am
jk was and is a legend, everyone in nz remembers his try against italy in the world cup