Sam Thaiday and Paul Gallen are swapping footy jerseys for boxing gloves in a bid to raise money for charity. Credit: Renee McKay Copyright: Renee McKay
League stars Paul Gallen and Sam Thaiday might be climbing into the boxing ring for charity in Auckland on Saturday night but they are well aware of the reception they will receive from the locals.
Fresh from starring in Australia's dominant win over New Zealand in the World Cup final, Gallen and Thaiday will face a different battle in the form of the annual Woodstock Fight for Life charity boxing night at Trusts Arena that sees rugby union stars take on their league opponents.
"I don't know how they are going to treat me over there now after we gave the Kiwis a hiding,'' Gallen said.
"And I'm fighting one of the All Blacks hardmen in Liam Messam. It will be interesting and a lot of fun too."
Gallen will be hoping to make it two wins from two attempts in the ring after beating former All Black Hika Elliott last year in the Fight for Life.
A keen boxing fan, Gallen is also interested in pursuing the sport further should he be victorious over Messam.
"It was bloody hard last year, really taxing fitness wise. I'm a lot fitter going into it this year,'' Gallen said after doing some light training at the Tyzu Aacdemy at St George PCYC yesterday.
"Liam is a lot taller than me and he is big and strong. The thing I love most about boxing is the chance to get into the ring and to test yourself one on one and hopefully come out with a win."
Unlike Gallen, Thaiday says the lure of raising money for charity is the main reason why he has agreed to step in against Ben Tameifuna, who won a Super Rugby rugby title with Messam earlier this year.
Tameifuna broke the jaw of a sparring partner last week and has a massive weight advantage over Thaiday. The Kiwi tips the scales at about 140kg compared to Thaiday's 115kg.
"Fight for Life is such a great cause and this is my way of being able to help some indigenous youth in New Zealand who may be going through some of the same things as the kids I work with in Australia,'' Thaiday said.
"I have some absolutely fantastic and brilliant Kiwi friends, some who I hold very dear to my heart, so I am more than happy to go over to Auckland and help my fellow 'cross the ditch' country men.
"I am not being fooled by claims of Ben's weight. I am sure he is a very powerful, fast and strong guy like all the Polynesian league players are in the NRL."
Irrespective of the result on Saturday night, Thaiday is happy to put the gloves away.
"I try to even steer away from an argument with my wife. I'm not a fighter at all. I'm a lover, not a fighter,'' Thaiday said with a smile.
"Hopefully for me, Ben is a lover too and we will go out there and have a bit of fun for charity."