Planning ahead: Malcolm O'Kelly talks life after retirement

WHEN Malcolm O’Kelly, 40, retired from international rugby in 2010, he had no clear career plans in place.

Planning ahead: Malcolm O'Kelly talks life after retirement

“You are very driven and ambitious in what you were doing. When you come out, the structure is no longer there so, although you can be very disciplined, you can find yourself a little bit lost in terms of where you go. I think you have to be patient with yourself,” he says.

“I decided that I would give myself a year before I would start asking myself where am I going.”

It gave him valuable breathing space but he is not about to be prescriptive for other ruby players. “It is different for everyone. People have gained traits or are interested in different things What Brian O’Driscoll gets into [will be] something that suits him — he’s got to take his time.

“Most companies will just leverage off your name but there needs something with progression so you can step away from being Malcolm O’Kelly the rugby guy to Malcolm O’Kelly the other guy.”

A civil engineer, he holds a sales role as an orthopaedic specialist with Tekno Surgical. He is also an ambassador for Plan Ireland (plan.ie) — a child-centred community development charity — and is leading a sponsored trek in Nepal from October 27 to November 4. The Himalayan Panorama trek runs from the Annapurna foothills to the top of Poon Hill. “It’s going to be really exciting.”

Married to Stephanie, they live in Dublin with their three sons. The eldest is three and the twins are seven months.

What shape are you in?

As a former professional athlete I had the privilege of training three or four hours every day so I could get myself in pretty good shape. Now for me it’s about preservation. I go for light walks, I walk the dog, play a bit of golf, do some yoga. I have a few treks coming up so I have aspirations to go hiking up in Glendalough.

Do you have any health concerns?

I don’t know any rugby player who doesn’t have some problem. I’m pretty good — the worse thing I have is an arthritic elbow. It doesn’t really hold you back from doing too much. I’ve done a lot of line-outs in my day and, with the likes of John Hayes lifting you, you have a long way to come back down. My knees wouldn’t be in the best of health now.

What are your healthiest eating habits?

With rugby they were very keen about informing people about nutrition. I would take a certain amount of omega oils for my joints and glucosamine and chondroitin. I drink green tea for antioxidants. We are a big veggie house.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?

I would be partial to cups of tea and plenty of biscuits - whatever is in the house tends to get eaten up pretty quickly. So we try and not buy too much. We are on Jaffa Cakes at the moment, they’re pretty healthy.

What would keep you awake at night?

My screaming children tend to keep me awake. I don’t get much sleep at the moment.

How do you relax?

I really love playing golf. Walking the dog. A yoga session — you switch off from work, from everything when you do that.

Who would you invite to your dream dinner party?

Brendan Gleeson, Luke Kelly and Leonardo Da Vinci. Salma Hayek and Angelina Jolie, just to keep manners on everybody. I’d also invite Hozier and ask him to pay a duet with Luke Kelly.

What’s your favourite smell?

A barbecue in the summer.

What would you change about your appearance?

I’ve got a nice big varicose vein in my leg that I’ve been talking about removing. It’s not very pretty.

When did you last cry?

A friend of mine passed a few years ago and I was at someone’s house that reminded me of his place. I might have had a couple of beers too many and it got to me. I hadn’t really expressed any thoughts or remorse because it happened so unexpectedly.

What trait do you least like in others?

People who are disrespectful to other regardless of their position.

What trait do you least like in yourself?

My wife tells me I can be very selfish. At times I can be. I blame all the rugby days. You’ve got to be very self-centred.

Do you pray?

I wouldn’t be great in terms of being a Catholic. We are christening our children, so we’re giving them the choice anyway.

What would cheer up your day?

If the sun comes out without a doubt. And maybe if, after reading this article, people would look up www.plan.ie and enrol to do a trek or two.

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