- General Outstanding Sports Writing Award – Shortlisted
I had only half a dozen Tests, and three of them were off the bench — I warmed it three more times without getting on — so it’s not as if I was a legend, but I’ll take it. Anyway, once you’ve worn the jersey it stays on you for ever and ever, amen. And not just on the field but in the stands, at the pub, wherever you go: London, Cape Town, Whangarei. In Paris it’s just as big a deal as in New Zealand, maybe even more so because there aren’t that many of us around. So quite often it’s ‘Madonna’s coming round for drinks. Why don’t you pop in as well?’ It’s not all hard yards.
But Mark Stevens is 32 and getting older, his ankle needs medical attention before each game, his agent isn’t coming up with great offers, and he wonders what life after playing professional rugby in France will look like.
Then there is the money. He has made a bit, and will make a bit more – but he is under pressure. He pays so much for his sister’s kids’ school fees back in New Zealand that he’ll never afford a decent house there.
On top of all this, dealing with the media is a pain. Until a beautiful Brazilian asks for an interview. There is more than one temptation on offer. . .