Rugby Legend David Campese Read The Same Poem Before Every Game
Campo. Rugby Legend. This much we knew.
What we didn't know about the man most consider the greatest Wallabies player is that he enjoyed a particular motivational verse as much as he loved swerving his way round hapless opposition.
Indeed, there was one poem which got Campo fired up for every Wallabies match in the second half of his career, from 1988 onwards.
It was a poem called 'Winners Are People Like You' and you can read the full text here. It's basically all about copping life's knocks on the chin and learning from them. The first three lines are:
Winners take chances. Like everyone else they fear failing, but they refuse to let fear control them.
Read those three lines and you can just about visualise Campo playing (if you're old enough to remember him). Winners take chances. Oh, did Campo take chances. And oh, did those chances backfire occasionally. But oh, was he a winner overall in his career.
Campese tells the story of how he came cross the poem in a lively chat with Network 10 sports presenter and fellow rugby legend Matt Burke in the first episode of the new 10 Speaks podcast "Talking Rugby with Matt Burke'.
"In '88 we played the All Blacks and John Kirwan ran around me a few times," Campese recalls in the podcast.
The great man was feeling low. Self-doubt bogged him down like a man wearing studless football boots on a muddy field. And then his mum gave him the poem.
"When I read it I went ‘hey, that’s me'. And I used to read it before every game," he tells Burke.
"Here’s all these boofy guys running around, and here’s this little guy in the corner reading this poem before he plays a Test match."
It clearly worked. Campese eventually racked up 101 Tests for the Wallabies, and was named Player of the Tournament at the 1991 Rugby World Cup, which Australia won.
If one thing marked Campese as a rugby player, it was the freedom he always showed on the field. Listening to him chat with Burkey, you can tell that his style of play was a direct reflection of his personality.
Campo doesn't hold back in the podcast, as he speaks about:
HOW RUGBY NEVER SEEMED LIKE A CHORE TO HIM THE WAY IT SOMETIMES DOES TO MODERN PLAYERS
"In my day you had day jobs. You'd go to training, and training was your fun, and I think that's changed."
HOW TODAY'S HIGHLY PAID PLAYERS JUST DON'T SEEM TO CARE ENOUGH ABOUT LOSING
"These days, you miss a kick and a guy gives you a high-five or a low-five.
"Or if they lose, guys say 'that's all right, we've got another game next week'.
"You lose a game, you miss five tackles, and there you are taking a photo with your mates on Instagram."
HOW ALL BLACKS LEGEND JONAH LOMU EFFECTIVELY ENDED HIS CAREER
"It's Lomu's fault I got dropped.
"I was 5 foot 11 and 82 kilos. Jonah was 120 kilos and 6 foot 4. So after the 1995 World Cup, Bob Dwyer dropped me for [wingers] Damian Smith and Roff because they were big."
Campo also reveals what he really thinks of the Wallabies ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup, which starts later this month. Oh, and Burkey reveals the small item he pocketed on a visited to Buckingham Palace.
But you'll have to listen to the podcast to find out what it was! You can listen to it here.
Network 10 is the FTA broadcasting partner for the Rugby World Cup 2019 in Japan, airing from Friday 20 September. We'll be showing all Wallabies matches, starting with their opener against Fiji on September 21.