Richie Barnett has a lot to be proud of – a wildly successful league career, a wonderful job as a life coach and sporting commentator, an inspirational recovery from chronic fatigue syndrome and a stint on Celebrity Treasure Island all rank highly.
However, it's his family that makes the sporting legend really swell with pride – especially when it comes to his 21-year-old daughter Maddison, who is well and truly making her mark in the world of dance.
"I'm so proud," Richie, 49, tells Woman's Day. "She's immensely talented, but I'm more impressed by her attitude. The other stuff is great, but it's the way she conducts herself around her career that I'm really proud of."
Like her father, Maddy has already reached dizzying heights in her chosen field.
A former member of Parris Goebel's world-famous Royal Family, she's just about to leave Aotearoa for big opportunities in Los Angeles, where she'll be choreographing and performing in high-profile events, like the Kaos dance convention.
"It's definitely the city to make all these dreams come true," the talented dancer enthuses. "I'm really excited for the move. It feels right and there are so many big chances in LA. I'm ready for a new chapter."
Dance has always been Maddy's calling, ever since she was little. "I remember I'd watch music videos and try to copy the dancers," she recalls. "Even at five years old, I always wanted to do hip-hop – I'd look through the windows of the dance studio and I just knew that this is what I wanted to do with my life."
Coincidentally, Richie's Treasure Island co-star Lance Savali – who has danced for Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande – has been a mentor throughout her career.
And while some parents might blanch at the thought of their kids trying to make it in such a difficult industry, dad Richie and mum Carrie have been nothing but supportive.
"She's got the discipline and she's really goal-oriented – at the age she started, she was very clear about what she wanted and she was very determined," says Richie. "But she's also very level-headed and balanced about making it as a dancer too.
"You can't put all your eggs in one basket, but at the same time, you've just got to go for it."
Maddy adds, "My parents have always said, 'You do what you want to do and we'll support it.' Especially with Dad being a former league international, the typical 'go to university and get a safe job' was never pushed on me. Dad got to do what he loved for his career and he wants the same for me."
While the former Kiwis captain is known for his moves on the field rather than the dance floor, Richie reckons his girl has inherited a little rhythm from him.
"I fancy I'm alright," he laughs. "I used to dance a lot way back in the day and I enjoy it. I mean, when I'm drunk, I think I'm cool and nailing it, but then I see the video…"
Maddy, meanwhile, has performed in music videos for the likes of Justin Bieber and Taiwanese singer Jolin Tsai, who is regarded as the queen of Chinese pop music.
"Dancing for Jolin was a massive career highlight," she tells. "I was one of the 16 dancers in her Ugly Beauty world tour and it was incredible.
"With dance, there are music videos and commercial work, but my thing has always been live performance.
"Being able to express myself in front of thousands and thousands of people – in front of a crowd so big that it looked like a tidal wave – was the most wonderful, overwhelming dream come true."
Now, at just 21, Maddy is looking forward to packing up her life for the bright lights of Tinseltown and she goes with the blessing of her parents, who are excited for their girl – and looking forward to taking a trip to visit her in California as soon as borders open!
"We're thrilled for her," nods Richie. "You need to move away from home to really appreciate what New Zealand is like and just what we have in this country. She'll go away, grow and come back with huge amounts of learning, so it's wonderful. You have to experience living on your own and get those life skills."
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