7 hours ago
Curtain raiser for Warriors/Eels
Some of them have hit 50 or are very close to it and only a few are under 40 but on Saturday night a band of former Kiwi internationals will try to wind the clock back a decade or two.
With 1983-86 Kiwi coach Graham Lowe there to turn them around at halftime, a team called the Kiwi All Stars will take on an Invitational side in the curtain raiser to the Vodafone Warriors-Parramatta NRL clash at Ericsson Stadium.
A squad stacked with test experience has been assembled including legendary Kiwi second rower Kurt Sorensen ? 50 in a few months ? who?s coming home from Australia especially for the match.
And he?ll be joined by a number of former test colleagues from his era including James Leuluai, Gary Kemble, Duane Mann, Joe Ropati, Clayton Friend and Owen Wright.
The Invitational side boasts no such star quality in comparison but, for chief organiser Noel Wyatt, that?s just how he wanted it to be.
?The game came about through purely selfish reasons,? said the 43-year-old Auckland taxi driver and long-time Ellerslie player.
?I broke my arm in my last competitive game in July 2000 and I just wanted one more run. I couldn?t think of a better way to finish it off.?
Sorensen was the first of the big names he asked to be involved. He accepted and so too did ex-Kiwi captain Gary Freeman although his television commentary commitments with Fox Sports have now prevented him form making the trip.
Also included in the Kiwi All Stars is Vodafone Warriors welfare and development manager Tony Iro, who runs the club?s Allied Work Force elite development squad, and his younger brother Kevin is also set to play.
The three Ropati brothers who played for New Zealand ? Joe, Tea and Iva ? are all involved while their brother Peter, an ex-Auckland hooker, is due to line up for the opposition.
Of the players in Kiwi All Stars, Mark Bourneville, equally well-known for his Fight for Life exploits, is the only player not to have appeared in a test for the Kiwis, although he did play for France against New Zealand.
The Invitation side, coached by former Auckland and Ellerslie prop Jeff Grainger, features several players who turned out for Auckland during their playing careers including Kiwi coach Brian McClennan. Also involved are McClennan?s assistant coach Graeme Norton, Steve Kemble ? Gary?s brother ? Ken Andersson and brothers Ricky and Darrel Williams (the latter not to be confused with 1980s Kiwi fullback Darrell Williams).
Wyatt said the match had been made possible through the support of a number of sponsors such as Lion Red, Great Western Steakhouse (New Lynn), Trak Electrical and Air Conditioning, Regency Cabs and Greenlane Manor Motel.
The match will played over two 30-minute halves.
KIWI ALL STARS V INVITATIONAL TEAM
Ericsson Stadium, Auckland
5.30pm, Saturday, July 15, 2006
Referee: Bill Shrimpton
KIWI ALL STARS