Wright talks about his passion for rugby in a special Q&A session with Cook Islands Rugby Union.
What is your village in the Cook Islands?
Oire Titikaveka and Yato in Pukapuka.
What club are you currently involved with?
I am currently coaching the Wairarapa College 1st XV team that my two sons play for.
What professional teams have you played for and in what position?
NZ: Auckland Blues (Super Rugby), Auckland and Northland (ITM Cup/NPC), Wairarapa Bush and Mid Canterbury (Heartland Championship). France: Stade Francais and Oyonnax (French Top 14), Narbonne (French Pro D2). UK: Dunvant (Wales), Leinster (Heineken Cup). National Level: Cook Islands. I have played 317 first-class games in total and all were at prop.
What has been the highlight of your rugby career?
Making the lifelong friends that will always be there through good and bad times.
Who is your favourite/most-respected rugby player?
I have a lot of favourites or respected players. All would be the humble types – always head down and not shy of doing the hard work and getting in the tight, dark spaces.
How old were you when you first started playing rugby? At what club?
I started playing rugby as long ago as I can remember at Ngatangiia Primary School where I was overweight for my age group or class so I played with the bigger boys. Titikaveka rugby club is where everything rugby started for me. From the F grade all till the A grade.
What did it mean for you to be able to represent the Cook Islands as a rugby player and now as a coach?
It was an honour to represent the Cook Islands as a player.
My very first game for the Cooks was the first game I can remember my Dad coming to watch me play and a memory I will never, ever forget was handing my first Cook Islands test jersey to my grandad from Pukapuka. The look of pride and joy on his face still lives with me today and always brings a tear to my eye.
I am a very proud individual and always wear my heart on my sleeve and give everything 100 per cent. It didn’t matter where I was or who I was playing with or against, whether we were on a losing streak or crowned European or NZ NPC champions, I never forgot where I came from and the humble beginnings in Titikaveka.
Those that know me well can honestly say that I haven’t changed one bit from the cheeky boy from Titikaveka and now as national coach, nothing changes. I will always be a proud Cook Islander and will do my best to create the best culture in Cook Islands Rugby and bring pride back to the jersey, but also make a difference.
I’ve always believed that a good rugby coach is someone who makes a difference in someone’s life for the better and makes a player leave a better player and person than when they arrived. It’s all about getting the basics and finer details right and doing the simple things well. The results will take care of themselves.