When George Gregan begins talking about the importance of setting goals, it’s advice anyone will want to take note of, even if they haven’t seen the great man of Australian Rugby in action.
Gregan, the star halfback who captained the Wallabies in 38 Tests and earned his place in sporting history as Australia's highest ever internationally capped rugby player, retired from the game in 2011.
Those years as an internationally acclaimed sportsman taught Gregan, 44, a range of life lessons he says proved invaluable in establishing new roles for life after the game.
These days, he works as a rugby commentator for FOX Sports, as well as being involved in running the Gregan family coffee business, GG Espresso.
Gregan is part of the Fox-Sports Rugby commentator team
“When I was playing, everything was about hitting a number or a target or aspiring to get somewhere,” Gregan, who was awarded an Order of Australia medal in 2004, says.
“Working with a goal keeps you with an eye on the horizon, about where you need to go next. I found it was the same when I retired and embarked on a new set of goals I wanted to achieve.”
So it comes as something of a surprise when Gregan admits TV commentating was never part of his plan. He has been a key member of the FOX Sports team since 2014.
“It’s funny as when I was playing, I never, ever thought I would end up commentating and yet I’m so glad it worked out that way as I so enjoy it,” he says.
“When I started, I was once told to be clear about what viewers want from you, and what they wanted from me was the insight I have from having been there in the middle of the action of the game. And I have followed that direction ever since and it seems to work.”
Not that Gregan waited until his playing days were over to get started on setting up his future. In 1998, with his wife Erica, he set up GG Espresso.
There are now 24 outlets including cafes, small wine bars, catering services and bistros across Sydney, Canberra and Brisbane.
Erica and George Gregan in May 2013
“Erica is the one who built and drives the business, and I’ve had background roles in a range of areas,” Gregan reveals.
“What I loved about the business when I was still playing was to have something to focus on outside the sport. What I love about it today is that it’s still teaching me about how this kind of business operates.
“One thing I learned from being in a team sport for all those years is you are only as good as the people around you, and you need to watch and learn and then work hard together. If you do that, then it shouldn’t seem like work. It should be a lot of fun, and this is always fun.”
Gregan and Erica have three children – a son Max (16) and daughters Charlie (14) and Jazz (12). Max was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004, and the Gregans established the George Gregan Foundation to raise funds to train medical practitioners who specialise in the treatment of children suffering from epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
These days, it is Max who is helping his dad with fitness, as the pair have recently taken up mountain biking.
“I like doing offbeat things, and my son and I love mountain biking as it makes us work,” he says. “I still work out with a gym at home, and have just always worked with the motto ‘the body is meant to move’.”
Although retired from the sport, the World Rugby Hall of Famer would like to work closely with athletes
As for setting future goals, Gregan says he’s now interested in working closely with athletes. There’s something about bringing out the best in people that continues to inspire him.
“I would like to do more with athletes and find out where they are with their sport and help with what they’re trying to achieve,” he says.
“It might be a surprise to learn that with many top sports people, who are under huge pressure in their sport, the goals they are focussed on can be very simple. And working towards that is something I will always find interesting.”
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Image credits: (in-text) Eva Rinaldi; Paolo Bona / Shutterstock.com.