Exclusive: Rocky Elsom’s Reaction to the RWC Squad Announcement

Exclusive: Rocky Elsom’s Reaction to the RWC Squad Announcement

A few weeks ago we brought you an exclusive extract from the Bret Harris book “Rocky Elsom: Leader of the Wallabies”. It caused quite a stir, as it revealed Rocky to be quite the Renaissance Man as the book’s blurb suggested.

Well at G&GR we have recently discovered that despite the book’s release there is still work being done with the aim of producing a couple of new chapters after the World Cup. In fact we have been able to get our hands on a chapter written only last night that details Rocky’s reaction to his demotion as Wallaby captain and the appointment of James Horwill.

It certainly makes for interesting reading:


Rocky felt numb as he left Robbie Deans’ hotel room. He had just been sacked as captain of the Wallabies, with Queensland second rower James Horwill replacing him. For the first time in a long time he felt directionless and lost. He returned to his room, poured himself a glass of Scotch (a 1969 Glenfarclas he had picked up from a local merchant) and picked up the battered copy of the Bhagavad Gita he always carried with him. Whilst Rocky did not classify himself as a Hindu, he did have a soft spot for polytheistic faiths. A passage immediately jumped out at him; “For those who wish to climb the mountain of spiritual awareness, the path is selfless work. The path is stillness, peace, gratitude and wisdom”. He immediately knew that he must abandon all feelings of anger and frustration and get behind the Wallabies World Cup efforts. This was the mountain he faced.

The flight home was nonetheless a depressing affair. This was partly to do with his sacking, but also to do with the poor selection of crass Hollywood movies on the personal entertainment system. He was forced to borrow a teammates portable DVD player, and watch an old copy of Entotsu no Mieru Basho  which was an early piece by one of his favourite directors, Heinosuke Gosho. The 1950s was Rocky’s favourite era of Japanese cinema, as he believed the creative juices which were bottled during American occupation were unleashed with devastating effect in the decade after they withdrew. He offered the DVD to his teammates after he finished, but there were no takers. Obviously they had already seen it. He spent the rest of the flight working on an article he was writing for the New Yorker on the perilous state of the Portuguese economy after the failure of the latest round of budget negotiations.

The days between Rocky’s return and the squad announcement were spent resting at home, either reading in his library (currently Rocky is fascinated with the Oberiu movement of early Soviet writers such as Zabolotsky, Vvedensky and Zoshchenko) or working on restoring a Victorian-era weaving loom he picked up at auction. The time passed quickly and it was time for the squad announcement at Sydney airport where the media and public would discover his demotion. He was stoic on the morning of the announcement, inspired by a passage from Tennyson: “No man ever got very high by pulling other people down. The intelligent merchant does not knock his competitors. The sensible worker does not work those who work with him”.

The announcement and press conference passed without much fanfare, and Rocky was satisfied with how things proceeded. He particularly enjoyed the acoustics of the aeroplane hangar in which the conference took place, and took the liberty of performing a piece from Ravel’s L’enfant et les Sortileges for his teammates and the gallery. Most took no notice, though, as they were busy interviewing new captain Horwill. Dejected, he left the stage.

Later that night Rocky was once again pensive. Sitting in his hotel room, he was trying to summon the courage to go and congratulate Horwill and wish him luck for the campaign ahead. The words of Plato were screaming in his head “Without effort, you cannot be prosperous. Though the land be good, You cannot have an abundant crop without cultivation.” He couldn’t neglect his relationship with Horwill, he must cultivate it. Before he left his hotel room he showered and put on his suit, complete with cravat and his favourite cummerbund. He was ready to talk to the new captain.

He walked down the hallway of the hotel, and could hear loud music blaring from Horwill’s room. He was clearly celebrating the announcement, and the harsh R&B melody stung Rocky’s eardrums. He opened the door and saw Horwill standing completely naked in the centre of the room with a bottle of rum in one hand and an upturned vase on his head. This was going to be a difficult two months.


We at G&GR wish Rocky all the best at the World Cup, and hope a few more of these extracts are leaked as the tournament progresses. They certainly give a great insight into the mind of one of Australian rugby’s most misunderstood players.


Can't write, can't play.

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