Tribute match draws big names

Winton farmer Blair Vining put cancer treatment high on the political agenda. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND...
Winton farmer and cancer campaiger Blair Vining. PHOTO: NEW ZEALAND HERALD
There will be plenty of talent on display in Invercargill tomorrow. Not much of it, though, will be at its peak.

The Pack the Park match will involve plenty of former All Blacks and former Southland players in what is being organised as a thank you to the Otago-Southland community.

Southland dairy farmer Blair Vining died last year from cancer. His legacy was to help his fellow southerners in trying to combat the issues he faced with cancer.

The community had raised more than $1 million in under a year for a Southland charity hospital which will assist those who face the same issues Blair Vining did over lack of access for treatment and other health issues.

The game to be played tomorrow at Rugby Park Stadium is a tribute to the community which has given so much to the cause.

It will start at 4.05pm before the Mitre 10 Cup match between Southland and Taranaki. The match will be between a Blair Vining XV and an invitational XV and already the main stand - the capacity is reduced because of safety issues - has sold out.

Admission to the rest of the park is free and a big crowd is expected.

The Blair Vining XV has a solid-looking front row with former All Blacks Wyatt Crockett and Andrew Hore combining.

Ali Williams will lock the scrum while Jason Rutledge, who has played for Southland at first-class level this year, will turn out on the blindside flank.

Jimmy Cowan will link with Carlos Spencer in the inside backs while Tony Brown is out on the left wing. Pita Alatini and Callum Bruce will team up in the midfield.

The team will be coached by World Cup-winning coach Graham Henry.

The invitational team will have former All Black Kees Meeuws in the front row alongside former Southland hooker Davin Heaps. Troy Flavell and John Blaikie will lock the scrum. Paul Miller, Hale T-Pole and Kelvin Middleton make up a lively loose forward trio.

Andy Ellis will start at first five-eighth and former Waikato captain Dwayne Sweeney will be in the midfield.

The side will be coached by former All Black Simon Culhane, assisted by former WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker.

A charity dinner and auction will follow tomorrow night.

The game will be televised on Sky Sport.

Pack the park

Invercargill, tomorrow, 4.05pm

Blair Vining XV: Daniel Pinn, Steve McKay, Pita Alatini, Callum Bruce, Tony Brown, Carlos Spencer, Jimmy Cowan, Corey Flynn, Tim Boys, Jason Rutledge, Bryce Casey (c), Ali Williams, Dayna Cunningham, Andrew Hore, Wyatt Crockett. Reserves: Ben McHugh, Brian Anderson, Damien Pulley. Craig Robins, Joe Robins, Quinn Robins, Al Jones, James Caldwell, Matt O’Connell, Scott Carmody.

Invitational XV: Willie Walker, Shaun Vining, Neil Brew, Dwayne Sweeney, Brendon Laney, Andy Ellis, Matt Watson (c), Paul Miller, Hale T-Pole, Kelvin Middleton, John Blaikie, Troy Flavell, Tii Paulo, David Heaps, Kees Meeuws. Reserves: Callum Rutledge, Peter Thomson, John Officer, Tere Cummings, Chris Menzies, Brendon Mitchell, Craig Valley, Hayden Gentle, Vinnie Cruickshank, Gregor Laughton.


Can't wait. What a tribute to a great man who was taken way too soon.






Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter