Big names of the past from both sides of the Tasman will band together for a Legends of League Charity Match at Mount Smart Stadium next Thursday (March 10) to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.
New Zealand Rugby League chief executive Jim Doyle today confirmed the national body was working together with a group of former Kiwi legends and other organisations to stage a response from the code to help the Christchurch community.
“Everyone in the country is trying to find some way of helping the people in Christchurch and the Canterbury region,” he said.
“Staging the Legends of League Charity Match is our way of bringing people in Auckland together to provide some financial support for a community that’s been devastated and is in desperate need.
“We invite everyone to pack Mount Smart Stadium next Thursday and let’s all do the best we can to help Christchurch.”
Doyle said it was originally hoped to play the game on Wednesday, March 9 but a change of date was made late yesterday on police advice. They pointed out there would be a clash of events with racing’s glamour Auckland Cup meet already scheduled that day. With many of Auckland’s police force deployed to help in Christchurch, resources were stretched to cope with the Legends of League match on the same day.
Former internationals Gary Freeman, Monty Betham, Nigel Vagana and Tawera Nikau have coordinated a campaign on both sides of the Tasman to organise teams for the match while Mount Smart Stadium, the NZRL and Vodafone are lending their support. Also behind the cause is the NZRL’s League 4 Life Foundation.
Doyle said the total proceeds from the match - including a bucket collection throughout the evening – would be donated to the earthquake appeal.
Among the former New Zealand internationals set to appear is Nikau himself, who is prepared to take the field despite having an artificial limb.
Many of the biggest names in New Zealand rugby league history are set to join Nikau including 1980s heroes Kurt Sorensen and Olsen Filipaina plus Stacey Jones, the Kiwis’ 2008 World Cup-winning captain Nathan Cayless, Hugh McGahan and more.
More players are being enlisted with line-ups to be confirmed in the coming days. Australians Mario Fenech and David Peachey have also volunteered to play.
Doyle said top New Zealand musicians would provide entertainment before the game with Che Fu, Vince Harder, Jason Kerrison and ReQuest Dance Crew lined up. The entertainment is timed to start at 5.30pm after the gates open at 5.00pm with the Legends of League Charity Match kicking off at 7.00pm.
Tickets are priced at a flat rate of $20 for adults with all children 12 and under free. Tickets will be available from www.ticketek.co.nz from either tomorrow or Wednesday.
The list of players set to be involved so far is (all former Kiwis unless stated): Willie Talau, Nathan Cayless, David Kidwell, Luke Covell, Alex Chan, Olsen Filipaina, Kurt Sorensen, Andrew Lomu, Jason Williams, Sam Panapa, Sam Panapa, Sean Hoppe, Quentin Pongia, David Peachey (Australia), Mario Fenech (Australia), Awen Guttenbiel, Stacey Jones, Monty Betham, Richie Barnett, Wairangi Koopu, Logan Swann, Joe Vagana, Ruben Wiki, Tawera Nikau, Paul Rauhihi, Jerry Seuseu, Tea Ropati, Dean Lonergan, Clayton Friend, Duane Mann, Francis Leota, Hugh McGahan.