Arrowtown junior rugby player Johnny Ffisk (9) bats
one-handed during a game of backyard cricket in Arrowtown
last night while Highlander John Hardie watches the
wickets. Photo by Tracey Roxburgh.
The Highlanders got a taste of home life in the Wakatipu
last night when they were billeted by junior rugby players in
Queenstown and Arrowtown.
The two exceptions were former All Black Brad Thorne and
Highlanders co-captain Ben Smith, whose company was auctioned
off for the night - fetching $650 and $350 respectively - at
a Wakatipu Rugby Club fundraiser lunch in Queenstown
Following the captain's run at the Queenstown Recreation
Ground yesterday afternoon, the remainder of the players met
their billets for the overnight stay.
In Arrowtown, several players including Buxton Popoalii, Nasi
Manu, John Hardie and Kane Hames, stopped by the Arrowtown
senior rugby pre-season training before briefly swapping
codes and making the most of the Central Otago summer with a
spirited game of backyard cricket.
Their pre-season pre-match dinner - a barbecue - was finished
off with a pre-game dessert of lollies.
Highlanders commercial manager Mike Kerr said it was the
second time the team had been billeted in the region - last
year they stayed with families in Ranfurly.
''It's a great initiative ... we see it as the most personal
way to liaise with our fans and our communities ... that's
better than turning up to any signing session.''
The Highlanders will play the Brumbies at the Queenstown
Recreation Ground tonight. Kick-off is 6pm.