The Star: May 09, 2019

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news online at www.star.kiwi

The Star Thursday May 9 2019

SPORT 31

Senior player to apprentice

• By Gordon Findlater

A BUILDING apprenticeship

is the latest venture for former

Crusaders hooker Corey Flynn

who went from sinking boats

at Maadi Cup to helping others

sink pints during his playing

days.

Flynn, 38, played 151 games

for the Crusaders between 2002

and 2014, scoring 20 tries along

the way and winning Super

Rugby titles in 2002, 2005, 2006

and 2008. He is currently doing a

building apprenticeship with GE

Construction and plans to move

into project management.

“I’m about a year in . . . I’ve just

graduated off the broom and I’m

nearly allowed to use a nail gun,”

said Flynn.

He is also in the hospitality

industry – being part of a group

which owns four bars and a cafe

in Hanmer Springs. Flynn once

owned the The Fitz Sports Bar

on Fitzgerald Ave with fellow

Crusaders Kevin O’Neil and

Campbell Johnstone.

“Geez, we had some fun.

We were one of the only bars

that stayed standing after the

earthquake over that side of the

city, so for the next three to five

years we did really well,” said

Flynn.

Growing up in Southland,

he was a flanker in his early

days. However, he converted to

hooker after being told he wasn’t

going to make the Southland

Boys’ High School first XV as a

flanker due to his good friend

Jeff Wright being selected ahead

of him.

He also rowed for his school

and competed at Maadi Cup in

the quadruple and double sculls.

“We won an under-17 title in

the double scull and we nearly

won the under 17 quad, but we

actually ended up sinking,” said

Flynn. “We took on water down

the whole course and finished

second to Burnside High School

before we sunk.”

He played for Southland in

the NPC and in 2001, Flynn’s

path to the Crusaders was paved

after he received a phone call

from Robbie Deans – although

at the time he thought it was a

practical joke. “He introduced

himself as Robbie Deans and I

called bulls**t . . . I thought it

was one of my mates pulling my

leg because everyone knew that

Super Rugby teams were being

named. I was only 20-years-old,

so I didn’t think I would have

been anywhere near that level,”

he said.

“But, yeah, it was Robbie

Deans so after an awkward chat,

he asked me If I wanted to come

and play for the Crusaders and I

said I’d love to.”

One of Flynn’s most

memorable moments for the

Crusaders came in his 100th

game. It was a 29-10 semi-final

win against the Stormers in Cape

Town in 2011 – the same year as

the earthquake which caused the

team to play the whole season on

the road because of the damage

to Lancaster Park.

The day before the game,

Adam Whitelock, who wasn’t

travelling with us, he sent a video

through to the team. It was all

the first responders and some

people who had been injured in

the earthquake wishing us all the

best,” said Flynn.

“That was pretty moving. It

just sticks everything in your

mind . . . we went out that day

and we just couldn’t be beaten.”

The other stuff that really

sticks out is the mates you make.

I was lucky enough in 2007 to

see Kieran Read burst onto the

scene, and then he’s just played

his 150th game last week. As you

get older, you take pleasure in

seeing these guys come through

and absolutely light it up.”

Flynn is also remembered for

sporting many different looks

•Over the Super Rugby season, The Star will look back each

week at some of the identities who graced the Crusaders

jersey in the past and discover where they are now

STALWART: Corey

Flynn, who is

undertaking a building

apprenticeship with

GE Construction, is one

of just three Crusaders

to have played

150 games for the

franchise. PHOTOS:

MARTIN HUNTER

during his time in red and black.

In his early days with the

team, Flynn had a shaved head

before growing out his hair

and at one point he even had a

full grown beard. However, his

most memorable look came in

2007 when he grew a rat’s tail

accompanied with sideburns. He

says the look was inspired by a

dare.

“People didn’t think that I’d do

it, so I just did it,” he said.

Following the 2014 final loss to

the Waratahs, Flynn spent two

seasons with Toulouse in France

and one season with Glasgow

Warriors in Scotland.

He then returned to New

Zealand and finished his career

with West Coast in 2017, playing

under coach Sean Cuttance who,

along with the union’s chairman,

convinced him to end his career

in Greymouth. “I said ‘look

mate, if you’ve got whitebait and

lamb then I’m sure we’ll be able

to sort something out’,” he said.

Flynn’s planned retirement

didn’t last long, though. Last

year he laced up the boots for

Lyttelton a handful of times in

the metro premier reserve grade

after workmates asked if he

could fill in.

“After a couple of beers after

work one day they caught me at a

weak moment and said that they

were short and asked me if I’d

help out,” said Flynn.

“I actually got hit up by one

of the boys on Saturday night,

apparently they’re really short in

the front row again so we’ll see

what happens.”

Flynn has also become part

of the Radio Sport commentary

team for Crusaders and

Canterbury games. He has been

sitting alongside Brian Ashby

since last year.

“Working with Gash [Ashby]

is pretty easy because he takes

control . . . when he asked, I said

to him I don’t really know if this

is me, but he said just imagine

we’re at the pub having a beer

and you’re just talking rugby,”

Flynn said.

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