NRL 2 years ago

Lights, Camera, Action....and Taro - The Second Phase book release seen through Ray-Ban tinted sunglasses!

Flicking through a GQ Magazine whilst enjoying my morning coffee, I'm captivated by the Q&A on comedian Ricky Gervais - a funny bastard.  Did you know he sings professionally (pretty well apparently).  He's asked about lessons learnt through success,and responds that  fear of failure, and not attempting things drive him. 

"Don't wake up at 60 and go, F*'#k, I've left it too late!

8.30am: That thought lingers, interrupted only by the announcement reverberating around the airport for JQ252 passengers  to board their plane for Auckland.

I land on schedule and quickly find the exit, whilst switching my phone off flight mode. I side step slow walking passengers, and taxis rolling at 10km/hr looking for would be customers.(despite popular belief among the fairer sex,  some men are pretty good at multi tasking).

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I glance down at my watch - 945am:, plenty of time until our first media engagement. my phone starts beeping like a Mac truck backing down a driveway.  I check my text and social media updates of congratulatory and good luck messages for the book release today.

Sione is winding up a call "Sweet uce, are you busy tomorrow, whens a good time to catch up? The voice on the speaker phone responds "Bro, I am officially unemployed, so anytime is sweet" - A laugh is shared and the call is ended.  

The unemployed dude on the line was none other than Ali Lauitiiti.  The guy was ridiculously good in his prime, scribes labelled him The Michael Jordan of Rugby League (it would be rad to one day be branded The Michael Jordan of book writing") For that to happen, The Second Phase needs to be a slam dunk,not a cute little finger roll off the glass!

Riding shot gun with the subject, and sole source for this book, we discuss everything from family, business and of course the run sheet for today's media engagements.  I haven't seen Sione for over a year, but we click back into banter like we seen each other yesterday.  That's to be expected when we are close as two coats of paint - best mates!

Our New Zealand Publicist  Raewyn is talking to us at a cracking pace 

"Alright guys, slight change in the interview with NewstalkZB today.......Oh, so you got that dinner with Mike King on Sunday ........I remember when I did Jonahs book, it was the most enjoyable book tour I have ever done..."

I am sitting there thinking this is like a scene out of "Entourage" when Vinny's PR lady is  barking out orders,  before telling him to get his game face on. I am also thinking about how courageous this woman is,battling cancer for the second time in 10 years , yet her kindness and laughter belies the predicament she is currently facing.  

11.30am: It's game time but of a different nature, and after introductions with the TV3 (Mediaworks) team, Sione is welcomed back into the clubs fold like a long lost son. He embraces  Richard Bechts (Vodafone Warriors Media and Communications guy) 

(Disclaimer - I was  in awe meeting Richard, as he is a guy I have admired for years for his writing ability . The fella has written over 30 books , 20 of which are sitting on my bookshelf - LEGEND)

Familiar faces walk through the corridor, quickly inspecting the commotion created by the presence of the media .  Jim Doyle (CEO) , Steve Kearney (Head Coach) and club legend Reuben Wiki who looks like he could still ball today. Then,of course the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) to lace boots for the club, the diminutive (cool word for "short") Stacey Jones.  

12.45 pm: Si takes a break from signing the mountain of books on the table, but the respite is short lived as he is ushered out the door and down to the pristine looking playing field for a one on one interview with TV3 Story.  

One of my tasks today is to snap photos (albeit amateur ones) for our social media updates, but I feel like a tool standing shoulder to shoulder with  the Warriors video editing guy. He is pulling the trigger on a state of the art camera like a sniper zeroing in on his target.  He turns to me at one point to show me his masterpiece he created in half a second - I decide to put my phone away in my pocket.

The TV3 Story interview looks pretty in depth as the lady behind the camera switches angles.

....."He comes across really well" 

My phone battery is fading as I plug in my charger, and as I estimate how long it will take to breathe new life back into it, I am distracted by a voice approaching me.

"Here he is, the genius ghost writer "  

I quickly turn around meeting Richard Bechts hand politely tapping me on my shoulder, in a friendly job well done kind of  way.  He then adds another compliment or three as I start to float around the room.

I just received my dues by a writer I look up cool!.....that will do me. I can hang up my pen/HP laptop now and retire on a 100% success rate.

"Are we good for time? Si asks Raewyn, as we head cross town to our next media engagement. 

"Yes plenty - I knew the signing would take a while so I allowed for it" she responds.

- Of course she did, she's beaten cancer before, and will kick it's ass again.....shes Superwoman....don't sweat the small stuff.

14.45hrs:  3 minutes, that's how long it took for Si to inhale all the sushi that sat helplessly in front of him.  The big man is hungry both physically and mentally, as we move into a radio/video/website interview with Guy Heveldt from NewstalkZB. 

Si is in studio pouring it all out, I am out back feeling like Dr Dre with the controls, watching the interview on the monitors.  The guy controlling the sound and video is unhappy with the "plug" at the end by Guy, and tells him to shoot that last line again.

"The book is called The Second Phase, out in stores Monday"

That's a wrap!

"Tears are good bro" I tell Si as we leave the control room, needless to say it was a deep and emotional interview to end the day.  

16.00hrs: We walk back through the NZME newsroom,which I expected to be buzzing , however,being a Friday afternoon, the employees probably have one eye on beer o'clock.

"The Muddy Farmer is it" Sione  asks the NZME staff.....the joke missed her but hit me. He was stealing a line from his namesake "Siones Wedding" movie.  You know, the part where the white insurance guy character tries to fit in with the brown guy by saying.......forget it. (must be an islander thing).

19.39hrs:  Dinner time at my older bro Matt's house in West Auckland, and at the precise moment he utters the word "Amen" we rip in.  Chinese and Samoan cuisine which includes taro, somewhat of a delicacy for Si and I these days, as we rarely eat what is considered a staple in a Samoan household.

Technically the next day...........

12.15am: My head finally hits the pillow, as I mentally replay the days events in my head. The rain starts to slap hard onto the concrete driveway,which feels like I am listening to it via Dre Beats. 

 I wonder if I will catch much sleep?

4.30am: That question is answered emphatically. I am eager to find out if the 'Weekend Herald' ran the exclusive piece on Si.  I grab my phone off the floor and can't find the story, so I keep refreshing their website every 10 minutes, whilst checking out the rest of the news i.e. Paul Henry rating female breasts (dude never learns). 

5.01am: I hit refresh again and voila,the story appears with a photo of Si in his Rongatai College Old Boys hoody. I skim read the article to ease my fears (reason for deprived sleep) in case the journo decided to screw us with a less than flattering story angle.

I need not to worry, the article is a good yarn. 

5.30am: I flick the story to Si via Instagram direct messaging (as you do these days) and he responds soon after with "You are up early lol". 

 I shoot back  "Couldn't sleep, I wanted to make sure the article was in"

Article is in - check; next thought, is there any left over taro from last nights dinner?

The Second Phase - An Autobiography of Sione Faumuina 

Available at good bookstores in New Zealand and Australia (always wanted to say that).

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