Coppers’ clash will capture crowd interest
Police will swap body armour and batons for jerseys and boots this weekend.
The New Zealand Police rugby team take on their Australian counterparts tomorrow at Gribblehirst Park in Sandringham.
Despite winning 74-0 last year in Melbourne before an All Black test, constable Keki Wilson says they are expecting a challenge.
“The scoreline doesn’t really reflect how hard it was last year. They were still competitive. Our moves just seemed to come off much better than theirs.”
The opposition are also playing a series of games in the lead-up to the match and will be better prepared this time.
Preparation has been tricky for the Kiwis. With players scattered around the country they got together for one practice yesterday, says Mr Wilson.
“We’re looking forward to it, we’re very excited.”
He says team coach, detective senior sergeant Simon Scott, who also coaches the Ponsonby premier rugby team, will have a game plan for the match.
The Ponsonby team will be playing on the same day in the Gallaher Shield semifinal.
Former Warriors player constable Tone Tatupu is swapping codes to play on the wing.
He has also played a few games with the Auckland police team and is used to the position.
Constable James Asekona, who plays flanker, also plays club rugby for Waitakere and is looking forward to taking on the Australians again.
All three officers are part of the central Auckland community action team.
Police rugby director senior constable Barry Gallagher, a former junior All Black, says the game was meant to be played before a secondary schools first 15 game at Sacred Heart College.
The police sponsor Auckland’s secondary schools first 15 rugby competition, but bad weather forced a venue change.
“Two games on the grounds would have ruined them.”
He is confident of another victory, but says the Australians will be tough opposition.
All Black assistant coach and former police officer Steve Hansen is the New Zealand team’s patron and arranged for them to play the All Blacks last year in the lead-up to the World Cup.
“They whipped us, but it was an awesome experience,” says Mr Wilson.
The Auckland police pipe band will play before the game and during half time for entertainment.
Kickoff is at 12.30pm tomorrow.
Scrum time: Constables James Asekona, Keki Wilson and Tone Tatupu are taking on the Aussies as part of the New Zealand Police rugby team.