Sam Whitelock beams in from France

Members of the Farmstrong Supporters’ Network were given a treat last month when Farmstrong Ambassador Sam Whitelock beamed in from his new base in France to share some wellbeing tips. 

Sam was interviewed by Taranaki dairy farmer Kane Brisco for the live webinar, which ran for an hour, and attendees were given the opportunity to ask questions at the end. 

The Farmstrong Supporters’ Network held its inaugural meeting in November 2023, bringing together like-minded farmers who have played a key role in supporting Farmstrong’s mission of improving the wellbeing of farmers and growers. 

Sam kicked off the webinar by talking about what he did after last year’s Rugby World Cup, his brief trip back to New Zealand and then his move to France with his family, where is he is now playing rugby. 

He talked about handling criticism and pressure and making sure you look at your own performance first. 

“Under pressure it’s always good at look at yourself first. Were the coaches performing, were the players performing? You can have that debate till the cows come home.” 

Sam says the key question he asks is whether he himself is performing at his highest level. 

“That’s the question I always ask myself, whether we win by 100 points or lose by 100 points… that’s where I always start.” 

He says his dad taught him the importance of admitting mistakes. 

“Look in the mirror and talk to yourself first.” 

Wiggle your toes and re-set 

Sam, who plans to return to his Hawke’s Bay farm when he hangs up his rugby boots, says he tries to have a positive outlook and turn negatives into positives. 

In a rugby game, he says he wiggles his toes in his boots to get himself out of a bad mental loop. 

“It helps me re-set… and move onto the next thing I need to do… everybody has different things that work for them.” 

Sam says keeping things simple is also key. 

“[In rugby], doing the basics well and under pressure is when you become very good and it’s the same in farming.” 

He says when you’re under pressure it’s easy to overcomplicate things. 

“Zoom out and put things in perspective… nobody has played a perfect rugby game ever.” 

From rugby to farming 

Sam was asked what three skills he’s learnt from rugby that he will he take back to farming.
These were:

  • being on time
  • being in a good mental space
  • enjoying what he’s doing.

Writing goals and worries down on a piece of paper helps him to be in a good mental space, he says. 

It just gets it out of my head, and I can deal with it tomorrow because it’s written down somewhere. 

“I also read, even if it’s a couple of pages at night, it takes me away from the pressures of the day.” 

 He says it’s so important to know when to just stop. 

 “Don’t get caught up in the grind… take a few minutes to stop and appreciate what you’re doing and where you are,” he says. 

 “The first five to seven years I played rugby and travelled overseas, I was so obsessed with rugby I didn’t take in the sights… it’s important to know when to stop and do something different… even if it’s for 10 minutes.” 

 If you’re interested in becoming a part of the Farmstrong Supporters’ Network, email 

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