Sailor looking to settle an old score

Australian rugby league star Laurie Daley (left) and former Wallaby Wendell Sailor during the rowing section of the Anza Challenge in Wellington last year.  Sailor will be playing in the New Zealand Open pro-am golf  event in Queenstown next month. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.
Australian rugby league star Laurie Daley (left) and former Wallaby Wendell Sailor during the rowing section of the Anza Challenge in Wellington last year. Sailor will be playing in the New Zealand Open pro-am golf event in Queenstown next month. Photo by The New Zealand Herald.

Australian dual international Wendell Sailor is the latest celebrity signing for next month's pro-am golf tournament in Queenstown.

Sailor, who played rugby and rugby league for his country, is a handy golfer and joins other sporting celebrities including Australian cricket greats Ricky Ponting and Allan Border, in the amateur field.

Among New Zealand celebrities for the New Zealand Open's pro-am event are another dual international, Jeff Wilson, who played rugby and cricket for New Zealand, plus Queenstown-based former All Black halfback Justin Marshall.

Sailor, whose handicap hovers between 10 and 13, said he tried to play as much golf as possible during summer and had been ''hitting the course'' two to three times a week while on holiday recently.

The 39-year-old ex-winger, said it would be nice change to come to New Zealand for golf instead of contact sports.

Not only has Sailor played plenty of test and Super 15 rugby in New Zealand, he also once fought in charity boxing's Fight for Life, losing on points to All Black Liam Messam.

''I'm just looking forward to getting back there and doing something more relaxed that I love - like playing golf,'' Sailor said. Sailor, now an ambassador for Australian rugby league team the St George Illawarra Dragons and a media commentator, said he would be wanting to win once he got on course.

''We'll still get pretty competitive because it's what made us who we are throughout our careers.

''Now that I'm retired from footy, you still look for other challenges.

''I know there's a good social aspect to it, but I'd love to beat Justin Marshall - he's beaten me quite a few times with the Crusaders and with the All Blacks.

''I'd actually like to give him a whipping on the golf course.''

An old-fashioned street party was planned to begin the four-day golf tournament.

After the first day's play in the New Zealand Open and pro-am, at The Hills and Millbrook courses, nearby Arrowtown's main street will host a launch party for residents, players and visiting supporters. The historic town's main street will be closed to traffic for the event, which will involve free entertainment from bands plus food and wine stalls.

People will be able to mingle with visiting professional golfers and celebrities playing in the amateur field - plus win tickets to the golf and catered VIP areas.

The party begins about 5pm at the close of the first day's play on Thursday, February 27.

- Ryan Keen of Mountain Scene.