By Wallaby great, and Australian Rugby Union Hall of Famer, Tim Horan.

Tim HoranI first met Michael Blucher in 1989 when I was 19 years old, fresh from high-school and playing my first year with the Queensland Reds Rugby team.

At the time Michael was working for the Queensland Rugby Union. We spent countless hours together on rugby tours, planes, buses and even shared a few beers on the odd occasion.

Michael quickly became someone I trusted for advice both on and off the sporting field. Fittingly, it was he who cobbled together the story of me and my good mate (and long time centre partner), Jason Little, in a book called ‘Perfect Union’.

Since that time Michael has developed an extensive understanding of the professional sporting landscape, with a particular focus on individuals and their personal wellbeing. He’s provided guidance, mentoring and personal career development for many elite athletes and created a strong foundation for their future beyond sport and entertainment.

Michael’s practical advice has been invaluable, not only for me but many others. He’s regularly required to tell people what they don’t want to hear, but manages to do so in a very constructive manner.

One of the greatest memories from my playing days was borne out of suggestion from Michael. After the Wallabies won the Rugby World Cup in 1991 and we returned to Australia, ‘Bluch’ thought it would be a good idea for Jason Little and I to take the William Webb Ellis trophy (nicknamed “Bill”) back to the country area where we both grew both up and went to school.

Tim Horan and Rugby World CupWe didn’t need a lot of convincing. We grabbed “Bill”, threw him into a sports bag, and headed west from Brisbane. Over a period of five days, we showcased Bill around Queensland’s south-west corner, visiting a whole range of small country towns.

People had their photo with the Cup, blokes drank beer out of it, a two month old baby sat in it, it was even left outside a primary school – unattended – for almost an hour!

After winning the World Cup again in 1999, it was an easy decision to take Bill on the same tour again, but this time, it was accompanied by two giant security guards. The Cup rarely if ever left its heavy duty glass case. People were not allowed to touch it, let alone drink out of it.

The treatment of “Bill” in 1999 – compared with what happened in 1991 – is symbolic of just how much sport changed over a relatively short period. Rugby only went professional in 1996, and since then, the rate of change to all sport has been phenomenal.

Nowadays being a professional sportsperson is a complex, demanding and heavily scrutinised occupation. With the advent of social media and the 24 hour news cycle, athletes are now virtually caught up in their own mini version of the ‘Truman Show’. Every move is being watched by someone.

Unfortunately many athletes are thrust into this environment with little preparation or clear expectation of what is required. In most cases they have no idea how their lives will change, nor how they should handle it.

This book delves deep into the key issues – the competing forces and pressures athletes face to get it right, all the time. There are some great insights into what really goes on, including situations has Michael’s faced working with some of the biggest names in the sports industry.

Anybody who loves sport is going to revel in it.

The book is also a must-read for any professional athlete. I can guarantee you, it will fast track your thinking and develop your understanding of what’s important, both on and off the field, before the public’s perception becomes a reality.

Tim Horan
October 2013