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Josh Kronfeld’s new game plan

The All Black great is leaving his biggest fan at home for a new TV role.
Josh Kronfeld's new game plan

Being a stay-at-home dad is different enough, says All Black legend Josh Kronfeld, but being one who’s a former All Black is “even more strange”. Josh (41) has been on daddy duty for the past few years, caring for his son Cassius (3) at home.

But now Cassius is going to be the man of the house for a few days a week as Josh makes his weekly commute from the family home in Auckland to Wellington for a new project, co-hosting Brunch for Choice TV.

“He’s a wee champ,” smiles Josh as Cassius tears around the room, lightsaber in hand. “He’s my little dude. Hey, are we pals?”

“Yeah!” grins Cassius. “Who’s your best pal then?”

“Eeyore!” comes the reply. “Knew it would be Eeyore. Oh well,” says Josh. Cassius is his father’s son through and through. He’s inherited Josh’s energy and cheekiness, and loves to imitate his dad whenever possible, down to the watch he’s sporting on his wrist.

Cassius is his father’s son through and through.

“They definitely have a special relationship,” says Josh’s partner and Cassius’ mum Bronwyn Illingworth. “He misses Josh so much when he’s in Wellington, especially all the rough and tumble.”

It hasn’t been the easiest transition for Josh either. But the devoted dad is determined to fit in as much time with Cassius as possible, while tackling his new show with the same gusto he put into his rugby career.

“Things are changing a lot for me at the moment, but my life has kind of always been like that,” says Josh. “But that’s what rugby was like. I was doing that for 20 odd years, you just finish up what you’re doing and go from one place to the next.”

Remarkably bright for a three-year-old, Cassius takes great pride in spelling out his name, singing songs (his favourite at the moment is Moves Like Jagger by Maroon 5) and running around. “I have people walking up to me all the time as though they know me going, ‘Hey Josh, how are you mate?’ so he thinks that everyone says hello to everyone.”

“He knows what to do when you shake hands. What do you say, Cassius, when you shake hands?” asks Bronwyn. “Hello, pleased to meet you!” he exclaims, sticking his hand out to shake Josh’s. But while he’s a sociable kid, their son’s friendliness can make Josh and Bronwyn nervous.

While Josh couldn’t be prouder of his son, he’s not sure if he’d like him to follow in his hallowed footsteps.

“He walks up to complete strangers and says hello, because that’s what he sees me doing,” says Josh. “It’s a bit worrying really, he’s just so natural with people.”

When Josh is in Wellington, Cassius has to make do with seeing Dad on the TV or hearing him on the radio – an experience that makes the separation easier for the Kronfeld clan. “He said to us yesterday as he was watching me on the television, ‘daddy here and daddy there’, so I think he kind of gets it,” smiles Josh.

While Josh couldn’t be prouder of his son, he’s not sure if he’d like him to follow in his hallowed footsteps. “He’ll do what he wants to do, we don’t care. Although a part of me hopes he doesn’t want to be an All Black. Being the son of an All Black, you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.”

Josh’s sporting history and famously honest opinions will stand him in good stead for Brunch, which he hosts alongside former Silver Fern April Ieremia – although he admits he didn’t get off to the smoothest start on the show.

Josh’s sporting history and famously honest opinions will stand him in good stead for \’Brunch\’.

“I was really nervous, unfortunately. It’s not so much the talking and the interaction, it’s reading the autocue and making the transitions smooth – that’s the nerve-racking stuff. But by the end I was loving it,” says Josh.

“I’m my own worst critic and I’m always looking to be better. My personality jumps around the place, so it should make for interesting viewing!”

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