‘I don’t have that many bad things to say about him’

It's amazing how things have worked out for Jack Cornelissen, as a two-week experience leaving left field turned into a seven-year sojourn in Japan that has no end in sight yet for the 29-year-old. Along the way, the Australian became eligible to play in Japan, making his debut against the British and Irish Lions, and has since started three matches at the recent Rugby World Cup in France. sweet.

He quipped that all those accolades had yet to give him the highest bragging rights in the house: his father Greg was the famous scorer of four tries for the Wallabies in their 1978 Bledisloe Cup win over the All Blacks at Eden Park, footage that is broadcast annually on television when it comes to The order to renew that match.

However, the boy who seemed destined to miss out on a professional rugby career did well, very well, and his success should be celebrated as a case study in how you can live your dream without going out through traditional paths.

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Growing up, Cornelissen always aspired to make it happen. For example, his first Instagram photo in his school uniform shows him posing with Sonny Bill Williams who was on 2012 Super Rugby duty with the Chiefs. The super route was never opened to Cornelissen. Instead, the NRC became his lifeline, with two campaigns with Queensland Country opening an invitation that became the making of his rugby career.

Kiwi Robbie Deans certainly still has plenty of Australian critics after the way his stint in charge of the Wallabies ended. However, his local information produced a rich harvest that continues to pay good dividends for Panasonic Wild Knights.


Japan's premier rugby league

Saitama Wild Nights

Yokohama Cannon Eagles

Cornelissen, Dylan Riley and Ben Gunter were all plucked from Australian obscurity around the same time, and all went on to play for Japan after earning their stripes on the club circuit with the club now based in Saitama.

“It was great for me on a personal level,” Cornelissen enthused. Rugby Pass About the Deans, who have provided Panasonic with a decade of service since their exit from the Wallabies. “There were probably a lot of little things when I first came in that he picked up on and made me work on.

“Just ways of thinking about things I hadn't really thought about, or little skills that he would tap you on the shoulder and make you work on. There were things that I noticed for the first time that were completely different from the way I had been trained before.

“He's so good on and off the pitch, he lets the players outside of training get away and see their families, he's huge on that side of it and just brings the players together. He's the best coach I've ever had. I don't have too many bad things to say about him.

Please explain those little pep talks. “One was about the positioning in defense in terms of where you want to set up when you come off the line in terms of pulling forwards and not allowing them to have different options. Closing down their options was one of the things I remember at the start that affected me a little bit.

So, let's go back in time, how does an Australian player get a two-week trial period with an overseas club? “It was through Robbie in terms of getting that trial. I don't know how I first started but I was about to finish university and it just happened and I jumped into it I guess. It must have been the end of 2016 when I first did that trial In mid-2017, I started working full time.

“I didn't have the opportunity to play Super after I left school and went to university. I was playing football at the time and had finished university when I first had the opportunity to come here.

“It was a two-week experience at first and it evolved into another experience and then a contract. It was just getting the opportunity here and I thought, why not try a different culture, a different country? It's just evolved from there and I've been here for seven years.

Before Cornelissen joined, Deans had completed a hat-trick of titles with the Wild Knights. They were denied a repeat of that feat last May, losing to Kubota Spur in the final, but have responded strongly this season and head into the semi-finals next weekend on the back of completing their fourth unbeaten regular season in the league. The last five campaigns.

The Yokohama Cannon Eagles were their latest victim, as the Wild Knights cruised to a 43-14 away win, and will now host the same opponent next Saturday at Kumagaya Stadium in Saitama.

After last year's playoff stumble, Cornelissen didn't read anything about his team's latest losing streak. “We know that it all starts over again. Anything that happened last week goes down the drain in this game. We are very happy with the work we have done so far but that does not mean that nothing will continue into next week.

“Defense is what we've been focusing on during the year and we're really seeing dividends paid there. Previously we were more of an attacking team that could defend but defense has definitely been at the forefront this year and we're just looking to continue to grow there. “That's probably just something we need to improve on,” he explained. Focus on it more,” he continued, talking about the atmosphere of the game in Japan.

“I'm sure the players in every team will come up against us, especially when we're unbeaten this year. There's definitely a bit of a target on our backs. We know that but as far as the fans are concerned, it's probably the opposite.

“Opposition fans, there's nothing like love/hate there. They all support every team, which is a big difference compared to other places in the world where it can be a bit more hostile. When playing away you don't feel like you're in a hostile environment; They only support.

Panasonic has proven to be the club of Cornelissen's career, the home away from home he has made in foreign climes. He's undoubtedly loving it despite the weight gain and adapting to the fitness demands of the game much faster than he initially used to.

“I love it. Since I first got here, that's one of the reasons I wanted to come, just to be in a new culture, a different place. It feels natural now and I love it. It's the place that gave me the opportunity to play rugby professionally. Without them, I don't know if I will play professionally.

“The longer I stay here, the more I like it both in terms of Japan and in the club with the Panasonic team. It's just a good group of guys, a lot of young families helping out my wife and young daughter. There's just a good support staff in terms of staff off the field. Away from home, this is very important.

“The language was definitely very difficult at first, and the workload and the amount of training definitely took some time, but there was a very good group of older foreign guys. There was Beric Barnes, Dan Heenan. There were a fair number of guys there.” Who took me under their wing and helped me get through that initial phase and from then on I got used to it more and developed along the way.

Cornelisson's Wild Knights
Jack Cornelissen playing for the Panasonic Wild Knights in January (Photo by Kenta Harada/Getty Images)

“Trying to gain weight was a goal through the terms and conditions. It's always a goal to gain weight consistently. I'm around 110kg now, and I'm very happy with that. I think the deep shock that came first was about fitness. A lot of boys when they first come in, this Something I noticed, how fast the game is, this definitely took some getting used to as well.

Looking back on his time in the Far East, Cornelissen said he was delighted that the level of big-name signings had reached the highest levels, including his current engine room partner Loude de Jager. “This has been one of the big changes since I first came here. The success Japan has had has helped, and it has grown and continued to grow from there.

“There's been a feast of big stars coming in and the fans want to see these guys. This will continue to help with that for sure. There were always big players here when I first came, but their number has become overwhelming – they are world-class players and there will probably be more to play with.” These players are world class.

“In the time I've been here, we've had Sam Whitlock, Dave Pocock, world-class players you can see how they go and do things, and now we've got Damian De Allende and Lode de Jager. There are a number of world-class players, and that helps us all grow.” Individually too.

“Lood is just good value to have. For me, he's helped the lineup. I kind of run the offensive side, but with him there he does that as well. We've had him the last couple of years, but the more times we've spent with him, the more we've gotten to know him.” We obviously love having him here.

“He's one of the best locks out there. On the field it speaks for itself. Off the field, he brings value out there. Things like playing golf and getting away from the game, just being able to do things outside of the fun side. It brings us all together and I'm sure that helps later on.” (On the field).”

We'll find out for sure the value of this Wild Knights friendship in the coming weeks with the Japan Rugby League One season now over. The Test season will start when it ends, but new boss Eddie Jones' emotions so far have been limited.

“I didn't have much to do with Eddie. I met him briefly but I'm sure he'll be there Lots of different changes.” The second quarter-final in a row.

“We definitely wanted to go further in the tournament, so it wasn't exactly what we were after, but for me, it was a massive experience. I loved being part of it, but in terms of the team, we definitely expected to go further into the World Cup.

“I loved it, I loved living here and that was the next step, wanting to play internationally and play against the best teams and players in the world, so to have this opportunity and be able to play in a World Cup was huge.” . A dream come true. But my debut against the British and Irish Lions was big.”

Cornelissen will turn 30 next October, but there are no plans yet for a rugby afterlife. “I'm not sure what I'll do next. Hopefully I'll have a few more years of playing rugby. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it. I have a business degree in property and development. I'm sure I'll go down that route at some point but I'm not sure what form “It's going to look like that. I haven't really thought about it much.”

  • RugbyPass TV will be showing the Japan Rugby League One semi-final live for free next weekend. Click here to see the match schedule featuring Wild Knights vs the Eagles and Brave Lupus vs Sungoliath


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