A real grass­roots rugby suc­cess

DAILY GRIND It’s a tough job watch­ing grass grow but some­one’s got to do it. Re­porter Ben Rogers talks to Blair Chris­tiansen about his role as turf man­ager of Eden Park.

Central Leader - - OPINION -

When the All Blacks take the field at Eden Park they are run­ning out on to some of the na­tion’s most hal­lowed turf.

But be­hind the scenes there is one man re­spon­si­ble for main­tain­ing Auck­land’s most prized lawn and it’s a job he rel­ishes.

Eden Park’s turf man­ager Blair Chris­tiansen says it was his love of golf that got him into the in­dus­try.

‘‘When I was at school I played a lot of golf and prior to leav­ing school I in­quired at lo­cal golf cour­ses up north about turf work and ap­pren­tice­ships,’’ he says.

In 1991 Chris­tiansen started as an ap­pren­tice at Man­gawhai Golf Club just north of Auck­land.

It was there he honed his craft on the greens and fair­ways while find­ing time to take ex­tra pa­pers on turf man­age­ment and work­ing his way down to a scratch hand­i­cap.

‘‘I was play­ing a lot of golf and work­ing on cour­ses, I sort of over­dosed on golf and wanted a change.’’

Chris­tiansen made

the move to Auck­land in 1995 and was hired as Corn­wall Cricket Club’s grounds­man.

There he pre­pared pitches and out­fields for do­mes­tic cricket matches.

In 2000 he was hired by Eden Park as a grounds­man. He be­came as­sis­tant turf man­ager in 2006 and last year was given the top job.

The 40-year-old When­u­a­pai res­i­dent man­ages six staff and they work all hours to make sure Eden Park is look­ing its best on game day.

‘‘The team doesn’t have a fin­ish time, we just stay on un­til what needs to be done gets done.’’

‘‘On a nor­mal sum­mer’s day it’s about 10 to 12 hours, six or seven days a week.’’

‘‘It’s dif­fi­cult but all the guys un­der­stand that.

‘‘It’s not suited to ev­ery­one, some people like the 9 to 5 but oth­ers like the va­ri­ety.’’

A lot of work goes into the turf in the lead-up to a match. There are a num­ber of treat­ments to make the grass look its best and to en­sure it is in good health.

‘‘I like the abil­ity to cre­ate qual­ity in what is a rel­a­tively small area com­pared to other turf sit­u­a­tions.’’

Chris­tiansen says turf man­age­ment is a great ca­reer choice for some­one who likes a job where no day is the same.

‘‘It’s re­ally chal­leng­ing, it can be stress­ful at times but that’s a good thing, it brings out qual­i­ties that you may not have thought you had,’’ he says.

‘‘There is never a mo­ment that you’re bored be­cause you al­ways have some­thing to deliver.’’

Photo: BEN ROGERS

Nice of­fice: Blair Chris­tiansen on the man­i­cured turf of Eden Park.

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