Elias to captain Aussies in NZ charity match
Rugby league greats Ruben Wiki and Ben Elias have been named as captains of the star-studded New Zealand and Australian teams for the Legends of League Charity Match at Mount Smart Stadium next Thursday (March 10) to raise funds for the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal.
It will be a case of back to the future for the 38-year-old Wiki who will play in the centres, the position he filled early in his Test career after making his debut in 1994.
Alongside him will be a number of players he had as New Zealand team-mates at some stage during his career including Richie Barnett, Sean Hoppe, David Kidwell, Stacey Jones, Joe Vagana, Gary Freeman, Quentin Pongia and more.
Also in the New Zealand side are the legendary Kurt Sorensen and Olsen Filipaina, brilliant players from the 1980s now both well into their fifties. Filipaina is playing despite battling illness in recent years while one of the game’s organisers Tawera Nikau will play with his artificial leg.
Elias, an outstanding hooker in his day for Balmain, New South Wales and Australia, has one of his Tigers team-mates Paul Sironen with him while revered Vodafone Warriors hard man Kevin Campion is also lining up. Included in the Australian side are four New Zealand guest players in Clayton Friend, Mark Horo, Craig Smith and Jason Williams plus Tonie Carroll, who played for both the Kiwis and the Kangaroos during his career.
Also named is Australian football star Mark Bosnich, who carved out a long professional career with Manchester United, Aston Villa and Chelsea in the English Premier League.
The only names to be confirmed are for the spots kept open in each side for the highest bidders in an online auction on www.trademe.co.nz.
Apart from Nikau, the other former players helping to bring the squads together are Gary Freeman, former Vodafone Warriors captain Monty Betham and Nigel Vagana while the New Zealand Rugby League, the League 4 Life Foundation, Vodafone and Mount Smart Stadium are lending their support to the event.
• To be a part of the action, fans can bid here for a place in one of the teams (all proceeds to the official appeal). For those wanting to attend the match buy your tickets here (or go to www.ticketek.co.nz or www.nzrl.co.nz).
• Tickets are priced at $20.00 for everyone except children 12 and under, who will be granted free entry. There’ll be bucket collections throughout the evening to raise funds for the appeal.
• The gates open at 5.00pm with entertainment starting at 5.30pm from artists such as Vince Harder, Jason Kerrison and the ReQuest Dance Crew.