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Former Wallabies Captain, Benny Mowen, on the Bledisloe Cup

13 August 2021

As we prepare for the famous rivalry between Australia and New Zealand tomorrow in the annual Bledisloe Cup, we sat down with former Wallabies Captain, Benny Mowen, to chat all things Bledisloe, and the importance of leadership in any role. 

Tell us about your experience playing the Bledisloe Cup? What does it feel like to be the one on the field? 

I feel very fortunate to have been able to play the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup - not as fortunate to be on the wrong side of the ledger, but a special experience nonetheless. I grew up watching the games on a Saturday afternoon in my parent's lounge room, in awe of the atmosphere of the contest. From the anthems to the Haka right through to the end of the match, I hung on for every second of each Cup. Our two countries have such a rich history of brotherhood, and the Bledisloe always encapsulates that love and rivalry. 

That responsibility in the sheds before the games was not lost on me. I would sit quietly, a ball of energy and emotion forcing myself to channel it towards a team performance. Those moments are quieter than they make out on TV, with no one talking aside from the small organisational directives. You know that the bloke next to you will be with you, and you him, but you don’t want to let anyone down when you have the jersey on, so you sit there, focused, hoping that warm-up can end so the pre-match can start.  

The last of the Bledisloe rituals is the Haka. One of the most respected traditional moments in World Rugby, but a moment that provides as much energy for Australia as it does New Zealand. The Kiwis put everything into that moment, so as Aussies we stand tall and together, respecting them but also drawing our own energy towards the team. Both teams finish their last acts, and the whistle goes…pure adrenaline that you must now direct into the execution of both your, and the team, outcomes.

What is your theory on leadership? 

To me, leadership is the ability to lift the performance of those around you. Great leaders find a way to execute this independently of their own performance. Leaders are driven to lead from the front, but there will be times where your own performance will be far from perfect. In that moment, your team’s performance must remain elevated...and that is a sign of a great leader. They have created a strong team dynamic with clear direction, understanding how to navigate challenges with or without a shining performance from their Captain. Good leadership creates a team that is self-driven to execute the plan. 

How do you prepare for an important event or career highlight like the Bledisloe – what are your trialled successes?

I have learned over time to make the big moments slow down. You do this through your breath, your focus and breaking your roles and responsibilities down to their simplest forms. By doing this you give yourself time to execute and build in time that otherwise wouldn’t exist.

What is the most important learning you had from your football days that you feel can most impact your network, clients, and acquaintances today?

The most important lesson from my footy days is that connection is king. Having a great understanding of who someone is and what motivates, challenges, and rewards them is vital. When you value this connection honestly, that energy is mirrored in your interactions and enables some special things to happen. 

What’s your prediction for the Cup? Can you share any insider tips?!

I am backing the Wallabies to break the drought at Eden Park and deliver the biggest upset in World Rugby this year.

You heard it from the man himself, Aussies, tomorrow is yours! 

The Cup kicks off this Saturday, August 14 from 4.30pm AEST when the Wallabies meet the All Blacks at Eden Park in Auckland. For those wanting to watch along at home, Cup 1 is screening live on Channel Nine, 9Gem, 9Now, and with ad-free, on-demand coverage on Stan Sport.