SEVERAL members of the highly anticipated squad line-up for Pack the Park charity rugby match have been revealed.
The Sir Graham Henry and Chris Cairns-coached Blair Vining Invitational XV would take on the ITM Invitational XV, coached by Israel Dagg and Joseph Parker at the Southland Charity Hospital rugby game, set to be held at Rugby Park in Invercargill on October 17.
The game was initiated to pay tribute to the community for supporting the hospital and to mark the first anniversary of the death of cancer care advocate, Blair Vining.
Among the squad would be union superstars including Stephen Ma’a Nonu, Ali Williams and Carlos Spencer.
Southland fan favourites Jimmy Cowan and Jason Rutledge, as well as former All Blacks Mils Muliaina and Pita Alatini, would also make an appearance.
Adding to the excitement, Otago stalwarts Brendan Laney, Kelvin Middleton, and John Blaikie were also named.
They will play alongside friends and former team-mates of Blair Vining.
Southland Charity Hospital board member Melissa Vining said both teams were “stacked with incredible players”.
“We’re so pleased so many of them were willing to get on board with Pack the Park, to say thanks to the people of Southland and Otago.”
The Southland Charity Hospital would also reveal more players during the coming weeks, through its ‘Guess Who’ Facebook campaign, she said.
Three clues would be released about a selected player throughout the week, with the big reveal set to happen on the Southland Charity Hospital’s Facebook page every Thursday night. Fans who correctly guessed the players would go in the draw to win a jersey signed by members of both teams.
It was a star-studded roster, she said.
“A special mention has to go to Corey Flynn he’s been a huge supporter of the charity hospital since the very beginning. It’s thanks to him that so many of the guys have agreed to come out of retirement and play for us.”
General admission to the terraces would be free, and did not require a ticket. Grandstand tickets would also be available – tickets would give punters entry to both the Pack the Park game and the Mitre 10 Cup fixture following it, which would see the Southland Stags take on Taranaki.
Tickets were available at ILT Stadium Southland or www.ticketek.co.nz. Sales would also be available on the day, subject to availability.
A gala dinner, The Aftermatch set to be held at Bill Richardson Transport World, would follow the Pack the Park event.
Blair Vining Invitational XV: Andrew Hore, Ali Williams, Bryce Casey (captain), Jason Rutledge, Corey Flynn, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Ma’a Nonu, Carlos Spencer, Pita Alatini, Daniel Pinn, Mils Muliaina, Ben McHugh, Brian Joe Robins, Quinn Robins, Al Jones, James Caldwell, Matt O’Connell, Scott Carmody, Mana Harrison. Coach: Sir Graham Henry, assistant coach: Chris Cairns
ITM Invitational XV: Davin Heaps, Tii Tii Paulo, John Blaikie, Kelvin Middleton, Hale T-Pole, Matt Watson (captain), Andy Ellis, Brendon Laney, Dwayne Sweeney, Neil Brew, Shaun Vining, Willie Walker, Callum Rutledge, Pete Thomson, John Officer, Tere Cummings, Chris Menzies, Brendon Mitchell, Craig Valli, Hayden Gentle, Vinnie Cruickshank, Gregor Laughton. Coach: Israel ‘Izzy’ Dagg, assistant coach: Joseph Parker.