Marlborough Express - The Saturday Express, Marlborough

Wells still up for a challenge

- MAD BUTCHER

Bumped into a great bloke I used to help out a bit back in the late 1980s when he was world triathlon champion.

I wasn’t surprised to hear Rick Wells is doing something to give back to the community, tackling the Great Barrier Challenge to raise money for St John.

Plenty of us are going to be calling on that wonderful organisati­on, so if you can help, I’m sure Rick and his team, including former All Black Ian Jones, would be grateful.

You’d have to be a bit special to decide to swim from Great Barrier to Takapuna but that is what Rick and four of his mates are doing.

It’s about 100 kilometres and I told him he was mad. But he said they were raising funds for two four-wheel-drive First Response Units. They cost about $170,000 each and they have raised about $140,000 so far.

I have to take arm bands into the bath, but these guys will take about 24 hours, swimming halfan-hour each on a relay basis, with the biggest challenge being the night swim.

If you want to help there is a web page at greatbarri­erchalleng­e.co.nz and a Give a Little site givealittl­e.co. nz/cause/great-barrier-100-kmchalleng­e. They are on Facebook too at facebook.com/ greatbarri­erchalleng­e.

I loved having league to watch as the Ma¯ ori All Stars’ drew 10-10 with Australia’s Indigenous XIII on Saturday night.

James Fisher-Harris’ gave up a penalty at the death that saw the Indigenous side snatch a draw in Townsville and that was a bit tough considerin­g he was the best player on the field, winning the Preston Campbell Medal. That allowed Indigenous star Latrell Mitchell to kick a goal to produce the first drawn match in All Stars history.

Watched the yachting too, and Luna Ross and the man people love to hate in Jimmy Spithill will race against Emirates Team New Zealand for the America’s Cup, having won both races on Sunday to reach the magic seven mark and eliminate the British.

Much as I loved the league and yachting, the big news has been Daniel Carter’s retirement from profession­al rugby.

I have had the privilege of meeting him a few times and a nicer bloke you could not meet.

Old Father Time catches up with even the greatest and it was terrific to see him going out on his own terms.

His statement reflected the class he has always had as a player, thanking everyone who played a part in his career, from teammates, opponents and coaches, but especially fans. I thoroughly enjoyed reading a lot of the press that followed his announceme­nt, including Dan’s own praise for another All Black legend in Richie McCaw, and his regret that he never got to play with the late Jonah Lomu.

He was asked to name his top five players ever by an English, newspaper and plumped for Jonah and Richie, and McCaw, England’s World Cup winning flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson, Springboks Schalk Burger and ex-France flanker Thierry Dusautoir.

Of McCaw, Carter said: ‘‘I learnt a lot from playing alongside my old mate. A real leader and took us to back-toback World Cups. Thank God I was never on the opposite side!’’ Another English writer named Carter the greatest in his position ever, ahead of Wales’ Barry John, Wallaby World Cup winner Michael Lynagh, Wales’ Jonathan Davies and Wilkinson.

That made it even more interestin­g to read former Lions and England coach Clive Woodward rating Carter as the greatest attacking first five- but still behind Wilkinson.

Muppet.

But that’s the great thing about sport. It unites us, divides us and everyone has an opinion, and In fairness to Woodward, he said it was ‘‘almost an impossible choice’’.

Doesn’t really matter because Dan will always be remembered as a true All Black great.

Catch you next week, and until then keep up all your Covid precaution­s.

 ?? GETTY IMAGES ?? Dan Carter made a final appearance for his beloved Southbridg­e club in the Ellesmere Division 1 final last September.
GETTY IMAGES Dan Carter made a final appearance for his beloved Southbridg­e club in the Ellesmere Division 1 final last September.
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