A two-year hiatus away from the game to care for his sick mother looked to have ended David Eglestaff’s dream of playing professional rugby.
However, the 28-year-old has been given a second chance at securing a contract and the opportunity to train with one of the best franchises in the world.
David is one of five hopefuls representing each Super Rugby side as they compete in a new TV show on Three called ‘Second Chance Charlie.’
The winner will receive $10,000 and a 12-week training and development programme with a Super Rugby franchise thanks to 2degrees.
Born in Wales, the only country that rivals New Zealand in terms of passion for the game, David grew up with a rugby ball in his hand.
Having gone as high as Tasman B and Buller, his hopes of achieving his on-field ambitions appeared over when he received a fateful phone call.
While in Southland with the Mako reserves, David’s mother informed him she had breast cancer.
With David’s sister, raising two young children, he made the decision to fly home and care for her.
Putting his career on hold, David lost 25kg of muscle as he took up running to fill the physical void.
“It was just easy to throw on the trainers and head out.”
Having helped his mother through successful treatment, David returned to Nelson where he coached rugby and took part in triathlons and ironman events.
However, a chance tag in a Facebook post would eventually see him representing the Crusaders in the ground-breaking new show.
“I thought there was no reason I can’t give it one more crack.”
As part of the show, David and his fellow contestants have undergone rigorous fitness and nutrition regimes.
David also spent time with the 10-time Super Rugby champions.
“Seeing how polished the Crusaders are was amazing,” he says.
“It’s been a hell of an experience with a great bunch of lads, we have been on some great trips, learnt a huge amount and had some fun on the way.”
David says he feels fitter and stronger than ever after the programme, which brought out the competitiveness in all of them.
“There was a huge amount of camaraderie, but at the end of day we were trying to bring out best in each other and, with a once in a lifetime opportunity, I was going to put my best foot forward.”
David has since returned to club rugby for Nelson RFC where he says he feels like a different player.
“I feel a lot sharper, clearer and more motivated.”
With the show still airing bi-weekly on Three, other than a few close friends, no one knows what the result, announced August 6, will be.
“It has given me a new lease on life, and it will be exciting to watch it unfold.”
He says one of the key lessons he has taken is the enjoyment of the game.
“A lot of people put so much pressure on themselves and that can prevent them from making it, the thing I’ve learnt the most is to play to have fun.”
David says you only have to look at guys like Karl Tu’inukuafe or Kane Hames, who went from club rugby to the All Blacks within 18 months.
“It’s never over until the day you hang up the boots.”
You can also vote for Dave (or any of the other contestants) as part of the 2degrees People’s Choice in the 2nd Chance Charlie competition here: