A few years ago I was working in my home recording studio in the Waikato when out of the blue I had a call from an All Black. Josh Kronfeld was on the phone. He was calling from Raglan where he had just come in from surfing at Whale Bay. Josh had been known to jump up on stage to play blues harp with Midge Marsden’s legendary Mudsharks. The band played at the local Raglan pub, the Harbour View Hotel, on Mudshark Mondays.

“Midge told me to call you. I’ve been asked to play some Gershwin with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra” the  Highlander’s  Number  7 and one of rugby’s finest loose forwards informed me. “They want me to play Summertime. Can you give me a hand to learn it mate?” An hour later the fish was jumpin’ and the cotton was high. I was playing piano alongside Josh who was in the studio lunging and stretching with a Hohner harmonica cupped in his hands. A major All Black in a minor key.

I have often reflected since about how Josh that day modelled the essence of the new Renaissance man: an athlete in the peak of physical condition who had a passion for music and the arts. An All Black who could discuss Gershwin at the bottom of a scrum.

For the record Josh approached learning Summertime the way he did rugby training: repetition and discipline. From all accounts his cameo performance with his hometown orchestra later that week was a triumph.

The Greeks understood that the body and the mind were inextricably linked. It took Cartesian philosophers centuries later to come along and split the two. When I went to school in the middle of last century you were either in the first fifteen or you played first violin. It was decidedly un-hip for a rugby player to demonstrate an interest in music and musicians in the school orchestra typically had an almost professional disdain for sport in general.

 Things have changed. These days there is a reuniting of the elements. Jack Johnson and Ben Harper are both keen surfers, and every All Black heading under the grandstand before a big game is wearing a pair of headphones plugged into an iPod. All funked up and ready to rumble.

Last week, surreal déjà vu: I found myself in the back seat of a car being driven across the Canterbury Plains by Josh Kronfeld.  Midge Marsden was in the passenger seat. Ten years after I first met Josh we were all off to play a one-off gig together in Ashburton with a team of Auckland session musicians. The road talk careered around rugby, kids, cars and the blues as we shot the long straights through to the Rakaia and our late afternoon sound check.

The gig was fantastic. Josh and Midge battled it out on blues harp while the band built intensity under their soloing. The set peaked and then peaked again as Midge stepped out with his best songs on the run home into two encores. The Mudsharks don’t call him The Master for nothing. The Ashburton Events Centre went nuts for the blues maestro and the All Black in concert.

It was like a game of rugby but instead of getting the ball out to the backs the band took the blues as far out as we could. Complete with set pieces and risky musical off loads for one night music was a golden thread connecting our quite different worlds. We all had each other’s back. We were all playing on the same team.