WITH his professional rugby career behind him due to serious injury, Luke Fitzgerald is now free to enjoy more of the simple pleasures of life, including the occasional drink.
“I’ll have a few beers with friends — it’s nice to relax now that I’ve finished playing rugby. You don’t really get much opportunity to drink when you’re playing,” says the former Ireland player.
For the first five years of the Dubliner’s career, he didn’t drink at all. It was a decision he made following a chat with an older player.
“Keith Gleeson took me aside for a discussion on what makes a good professional. He said this isn’t just a career — this isn’t a nine to five — it’s a lifestyle choice, you miss out on going for a few beers with friends on the weekends or family functions you can’t have a glass of wine or whatever, you can’t stay up late, you have got to make sure you’ve got enough sleep, you’ve got to watch what you eat all the time. It was the best piece of advice I ever got. “
Aged 30, establishing a career outside of rugby is now his main focus. He’s currently undertaking the AIB graduate programme and also does sports commentary for Sky along with writing a column for a national newspaper.
Importantly, there is more time for his girlfriend Aisling Burke, who is from Wexford. “She is a lovely girl. I met her just before I finished my rugby career. She has been a big support throughout the whole process of changing careers.”
Luke Fitzgerald is an ambassador for #TodayIsBetter campaign which shares the stories of everyday life with chronic pain, and looks at how we can help those with chronic pain live better.
What shape are you in?
I absolutely could be in better shape. I probably need to do a little more cardio as my belt buckles will attest to, unfortunately. With the injury I had when I finished up, I had to do a little bit of weights — which I really enjoyed when I played rugby. Three or four times a week, I’ll head to the gym with one of my friends from school. I don’t push it too hard I’m not trying to break any world records in there.
What are your healthiest eating habits?
My diet has been the worst part since I’ve finished playing. Lunch is probably the best meal. I’ll have a sandwich and some soup. Around where I work in Ballsbridge, there are some lovely places that serve some lovely salads.
What are your guiltiest pleasures?
I’ve a sweet tooth. I love a Double Decker bar — that does it for me.
What would keep you awake at night?
No. I sleep soundly — bar a bit of snoring.
How do you relax?
I love playing a bit of golf — though it doesn’t always relax me. It depends on who I’m playing with. It’s a great way to get out in the fresh air and enjoy my friends’ company. I’ve a 12 handicap — it’s come down a little bit since I finished playing rugby. I’ve been a member of the Castle golf club since I was 10 years old.
Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?
Will Ferrell, you’ve got to have someone who’d be a bit of crack. Deepak Chopra — I’ve a few of his books at home. He might give us some insights into leading a more enjoyable and fulfilling life. And I would have loved to have met Mohammed Ali in his prime. He was such a brave guy and very funny.
What’s your favourite smell?
My favourite cologne is Creed [Aventus].
What would you like to change about your appearance?
I am happy with just the way I am. Obviously, you could always be better but you’d drive yourself fairly crazy if you always worried about changing yourself.
Last time you cried?
I can’t even remember the last time.
What traits do you least like in others?
I don’t like people who are sneaky.
What traits do you least like about yourself?
I talk too much and I don’t listen enough.
Do you pray?
What would cheer up your day?
I like a good song in the morning before I go to work — it usually puts me in good form. I like to make the most of every day. Ireland is a great place to live. We don’t have to worry about the basics, we just get to live our lives and enjoy it for the most part in a very safe environment. I love waking up here every day.
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