After 71 tests and 1 match for the All Blacks, Wyatt Crockett has called time on his international career. Here, in a RugbyPass Exclusive, he tells us why he is stepping down from the All Blacks and how thankful he is to have worn the most famous jersey in the game. And he has some other news, too.
It is never an easy thing to know when the time is right. Since 2009 I have worn the All Blacks jersey with immense pride and gratitude, but for much longer than that I had dreamed of one day having that chance. Late last year, in consultation with my wife and family, we decided to start a new chapter of our lives, one that allows us to spend more time together.
Early in the New Year I made a call to All Blacks coach Steve Hansen and informed him of my decision to make myself unavailable for national selection. I would like to thank him for his understanding and his encouragement. Steve has been a constant for me in the All Blacks. For as long as I have been there, so has he. To him, and to all of the All Blacks management and family, I say thank you for every opportunity to represent my country and my family, and to live out a childhood dream. I hope I have repaid your faith.
I was raised in Golden Bay, at the top of New Zealand’s South Island, and I could not have wished for a more idyllic childhood. My parents were incredibly supportive of me and instilled in me the values of hard work and determination – values I hope I have lived and demonstrated to others, especially when things didn’t quite go to plan. It takes plenty of hard work and determination to become part of any great team, and without the support and guidance from my parents, and from my wife Jenna’s parents, I don’t know if I could have done it. To Murray, Lynda, Mum and Dad, thanks a million.
When Rob Penney called me 17 years ago to ask if I’d like to come down to Christchurch and train with the Canterbury Academy under the guidance of Mike Cron, I packed my bags and off I went. It was in preparation for the third NZ under-19 trial and while I was no rising star, I was prepared to give it everything I had. Only by giving everything could I have hoped to make the teams I had dreamed of playing for.
One of those teams was, of course, the Crusaders. To Robbie Deans, Todd Blackadder and Scotty Robertson, thank you for allowing me to be a part of such a wonderful side for so many years. Thanks also to everyone involved in this great franchise; I’ve seen first-hand how much the team, management, staff, board and fans care about our team and how hard they are prepared to work for it. I was happy to play just one game. To know now that no one has played more – yet – makes me feel enormously proud and immensely grateful. To have won three titles with the Crusaders has been a dream come true, and I can assure you that my focus is very much on winning a fourth this season.
I am also indebted to all those who have supported me at provincial level at Canterbury. Rob Penney, the man who brought me down to Canterbury, was also the first to give me a crack in the red and black hoops. He believed in me then, and has been a constant mentor and friend ever since. To all the coaches and support staff, the families and the volunteers who helped me in my provincial career and who continue to make provincial rugby strong, I say many thanks indeed. While many may think that provincial rugby has slid down the pecking order, I disagree. I was honoured to wear the Canterbury jersey and I hope that every player who gets the chance in the future understands the importance of the game at local level, and the legacy that they are adding too.
On that note, I have something else to announce. As of this year I will, for the first time, play for a different provincial team. I have signed to play for the Tasman Mako for the next two seasons and am excited to give back to the province of my youth. I know that I go with Canterbury’s blessing and will arrive with a great desire to play well and to contribute to a team that has done great things in NZ rugby since its formation in 2006.
I will also be arriving with my own team, having made the decision to move to Nelson so as to be closer to both my immediate family and my wife Jenna’s family. We want to enjoy the lifestyle that this amazing region has to offer, and to give our boys the childhood that we were both lucky enough to have.
I want my team mates to know how much I have appreciated their support, friendship, encouragement and camaraderie over many years, and I also would like to acknowledge all those men I have played against at international and Super Rugby level. I know I will still lock horns with many of you in the upcoming season. For those of you against whom I have now played my last, I hope I was a worthy competitor and that I won your respect. Respect, after all, is the foundation of this game I love so much.
Finally, and on the subject of love, to my beautiful and incredible wife Jenna and to my two amazing boys Sonny and Emmett, I have no idea how to repay you for allowing me the opportunity to do what I love doing all these years. It has taken me away from you for long periods of time and yet you have never wavered in your love and dedication. Perhaps the best way I can repay you is by being there, which is what this decision will allow me to do.
Thanks everyone, and here’s to the 2018 Crusade.
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