Former Ulster flanker Peter Browne was once an intimidating presence on the rugby field.
But his focus has switched now to sharing the gospel.
Browne, son of former Ireland junior and Ulster rugby player turned Church of England minister Leonard, is following in his father’s footsteps.
He is committing his retirement years to spreading the good news of Jesus through his work with Christians in Sport.
He said: “Christians in Sport has been in my blood, as it were. I went to all the camps until I was 17 and then rugby took over.
“That was one of the reasons I wanted to go as far as I could in rugby because I saw it as an act of worship. God gave me these gifts and I wanted to use them to glorify him.
“It’s not that he needs me to play well to glorify him, it’s that because of what he did for me and the relationship I have with him, he deserves all of me. I grew up seeing rugby as a good opportunity to worship God and talk to teammates.”
Browne plied his trade with Newcastle Falcons and Harlequins in the English Premiership before ending his career with a three-year spell at the Kingspan Stadium with Ulster.
He has now taken on a role of chaplaincy, using his experience in the game to help others in the Pro14 division to find and strengthen their faith.
He added: “With such a performance-based society, we ask them where is your identity? Is it in your performance, which is something that is so up-and-down for athletes? Is it in your sport which, currently, you’re not playing at all? Or is it in Christ? So it’s pointing them to that.
“For us, it’s about understanding that you are not defined by what you do but who you are in Christ. The aim is to point guys to Jesus and letting them see how great he is and that he is the only way to the Father. The more you think about Jesus, the more you take your eyes off yourself.
“I played 12 seasons as a rugby player, so I know that there are nights where you’re worrying if you’ll get another contract or whether you’ll get in the team or if an injury will be the end of your career. All those things are there.
“But if you have that perspective of ‘I am unconditionally loved through Jesus because I have accepted him’ that changes.
“Yes, you still feel those things, but it’s not a fear. It’s a different perspective.”
Christians in Sport works with over 450 professional athletes through various workstreams led by the likes of former Premier League footballer Linvoy Primus, PFA director of player welfare Michael Bennett and former Solheim Cup-winning captain Alison Nicholas.