We spoke with NZ Rugby stalwart Jason Shoemark who is now with the Exeter Chiefs.
Jason Shoemark has a long proud history in New Zealand Rugby having made his first class debut with Northland in 1999 while still a teenager. 'Shoey' went on to play provincial rugby for Otago, Hawkes Bay, stepped into Super Rugby in 2002 with the Blues and has had stints with the Highlanders also.
In 2006 Shoey had a serious neck injury which resulted in surgery and time off rugby - he fought back through Hawkes Bay where he again kicked on to Super Rugby and gained Captaincy of the province in 2010. Since then he has played for the Exeter Chiefs in the AVIVA Premiership and is now back home having follow up surgery on his neck. 2012/13 promises to be a big year for Shoey!
(TIKA) How is life in Exeter treating you? How does it compare with NZ Rugby/lifestyle?
(JS) Life in Exeter is really good, great bunch of boys here, and they are trying to play a really positive style of play which is nice for me. The rugby is a little different over here lot more forward orientated and the weather makes it a lot tougher to throw the ball around but i think it's improving all the time. Life style is great most of the boys live within 5 minutes of each other and get together for lunches, golf & hunting type activities - its like a close knit family, great for the wives/girlfriends too.
(TIKA) You have played a huge amount of rugby in your time, what has been your greatest moment/match?
(JS) Greatest moment for me is probably the two times we bet Waikato in the QF of the NPC in 2007/2008 just really enjoyed being part of something special in Hawkes Bay. Waikato was stacked with All Blacks and was awesome to beat them. Also making NZ under 21's for 3 years was pretty special
(TIKA) What do you enjoy doing outside Rugby?
(JS) I’ve always loved playing sport so, I like playing Squash and most other sports as well as relaxing with family and hanging with mates.
(TIKA) What has been your toughest moment?
(JS) Breaking my neck was really tough not being able to be part of the game I love playing for a whole year and going through all the rehab and training by myself was really tough. But also not making 2008 super rugby competition when I really thought I deserved to be there was really hard to take.
(TIKA) What are the best/worst things about rugby in your opinion.
(JS) Best things is just the comradeship you have with your team mates you spend so much time with each other you become really close and it’s just a really special thing, that not to many people get to experience with that amount of people. Worse thing is injuries and time away from family.
(TIKA) Do you have any pre game rituals / songs you listen to?
(JS) Haha! the Magpie boys will have a laugh at this one I used to listen to Rihanna/Disturbia but you'll be happy to know I've moved on from that. Anything that I'm into at the time now. Another ritual I have is I always have to do 4x 40m sprints in the warm up - strange I know.
(TIKA) Were you ever told you were too big / small / not good enough etc? How did you work through that to reach over 160 first class caps?
(JS) You always get people who try and make you feel not good enough, but for me it was always something I just loved doing so you just carry on. I try not to read newspapers rugby articles anything to do with the competition I'm playing in [because] good or bad I don't want to know. Your coach and team mates are the only opinions that matter.
(TIKA) If you weren't playing rugby, what would you be doing? Will you look to get into that when you finish playing?
(JS) I’ve always wanted to own my own orchard so will be something like that, can't stand being behind a desk so will be outside doing something.
(TIKA) Are there any aspects of the game you struggle with/don't enjoy? On or Off field.
(JS) Not really, on field stuff can be tough but you just need to get out and practice to try an improve the best you can, some off field stuff can be a lot harder to deal with there always issues when you dealing with 40 odd different personalities and their partners but you just work through them.
(TIKA) Who is the gutsiest player you have played with or against and why?
(JS) A guyed called Jason Hita. I played with him in my Northland days, he played second five. [He was] really gifted player and didn't get the recognition he deserved never complained just went out every week and gave it his all put his body on the line every week. Was always willing to lend a hand if you needed him and was a guy who went about his business quietly but someone who you really respected.
(TIKA) You've had a massive neck injury that would put most people out of the game, how did you work through that?
(JS) As tough as the neck injury was it was probably a blessing in disguise for me, at the time my rugby had stalled and wasn't really going anywhere, the neck injury gave me time away get myself sorted out and the rest I probably needed. It also reconfirmed my desire and passion for the game was still there.
(TIKA) A lot of NZ players end their career overseas, any chance we'll be lucky enough to see you play in NZ again?
(JS) Not too sure what the future holds, I've just signed another 2 years here and would like to do a year in Italy but things can change pretty fast in the rugby world.
(TIKA) Finally, what does 'TIKA' or 'Ticker' mean to you in rugby/everyday life?
(JS) Ticker to me means doing the extra rep when you don't think you can do anymore or the extra 10, to get up when you injured on the field and help your team even if it’s just to fill a space. Going out and doing the training when your friends are out drinking having fun and or when it’s raining outside an you have to go out and do a run. I think ticker is just going/doing that extra bit when others would give up.
Shoey thank you so much for your time - there are a lot of young players around the country that will take a lot out of your wise words. All the best while recuperating, enjoy being back and good luck for the upcoming season!
We were lucky enough to catch up with Neemia Tialata over the weekend! The former Wellington Lions, Hurricanes and All Blacks prop has now found himself in Bayonne, France. For a man that hates talking to media we found him fantastically honest and he has some great pointers for young players looking to hit the top of the game!
(TIKA) Hows life treating you in France, how have you found the difference in both culture and rugby?
(Neemia Tialata) Tres bien! Very good and very different - The French are very passionate about their Rugby/Team.
(NT) Playing my first test for the All Blacks alongside Tana Umaga and two of my best mates I grew up with Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu.
(NT) Just being at home with my beautiful fiancé, chilling out!
Yeah I play a little now and then when I have to.
(NT) Booyah-Tribe, Nesian Mystiks can't go wrong there.
(NT) Yes! I was always told I was too big! ... RUN RUN RUN :)
(NT) Never give up but I always had short term GOALS and had to SACRIFICE a lot to reach my main GOAL.
(NT) My first test for the AB's because it went so fast I can't remember what happen. LOL
(NT) Losing my parents at a young age and wanted to do something positive with my life.
(NT) Hate talking to the media and doing promotion work :)
(NT) Having to choose from playing Rugby League to Union at the age of 13 and never looked back.
(NT) Having the courage and HEART to do whatever I set my sights on.
(NT) Yes! [It would] definitely give back to the Island nations and it'll help grow the game there.
(NT) Rugby is not just a game we play, you definitely learn skills everyday that'll help in everyday life.
(NT) Thanks, Appreciate that.
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