It’s hard to believe that the affable, beaming, ‘Buddha’ is the same beast that created mayhem on the rugby fields around the world with his uncompromising and rugged play. As a barrel-chested prop forward, Chris didn’t mind a bit of biff and formulated plays that would ruffle opposition feathers. Remembering a tough match against the Pumas, he said:
“The moment we realised we had them done was when we packed the scrum and the opposition hooker’s mouthguard fell into the middle of the tunnel between us, with two of his teeth embedded in it. Sensational, satisfying, exhilarating!”
Chris describes himself as “a no holds-barred, boots-and-all footballer, who loved the contest, the competition, the physicality of the game, who happily accepted the pain of it.”
Some of those qualities have made ‘Buddha’ one of the great rugby commentators. Whether he is describing a player as having a “face like a squashed grape” or the All Blacks as being “like 15 mongrel dogs outside a butcher’s shop”, his quips are patriotic, passionate and a much loved part of rugby’s texture.
‘Buddha’ is amongst a rare breed of player to have twice hoisted the Bledisloe Cup for Australia. He’s as passionate a speaker as he was a bloodied front-rower in those games. He’ll have you shouting ‘Go you good thing!’