Stars rally for special Olympians
Rugby league super stars Kevin Walters and Glenn Lazarus are rallying behind Te Awamutu’s Special Olympics team.
The two former Australian internationals have dedicated their time to be guest speakers at Te Awamutu Special Olympics fundraising dinner/auction at Trust Waikato Te Awamutu Events Centre on Saturday, March 2.
Proceeds from the function will help offset travelling/accommodation costs incurred sending Te Awamutu athletes Deshan Walallavita, Portia Johnson and Unity Collins to the World Games in Abu Dhabi in March, travel/expenses for other athletes to attend various future events and creating a web site.
Head coach Shelley Blair says the approximate cost is $12,500 for each of the three New Zealand representatives.
“We had Wayne Bennett and Sir Peter Leitch as guest speakers at our last dinner in 2013 with great success,” says Blair.
“Securing rugby league legends Kevin Walters and Glen Lazarus as our guest speakers this year is a coup for a small town like Te Awamutu.”
Walters is current head coach of the Queensland State of Origin team, as well as a commentator for Fox League. He played fiveeighth for the Australian Kangaroos, Queensland Maroons and at professional club level primarily for the Brisbane Broncos.
In 1999, Walters was handed the Broncos’ captaincy. He also captained Queensland in the second match of the 1999 State of Origin series.
Walters was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia’s international standing in the sport of rugby league in 2000. He captained the Broncos at halfback in their 2000 NRL grand final win against the Sydney Roosters, claiming one more premiership ring with the club before moving to England.
He played for Warrington briefly and decided it was not for him and his family, so moved back to Australia, playing his final season with the Broncos in 2001.
In 2003 Walters was one of the first four former players inducted into the Broncos official Hall of Fame. During the 2007 season at the Broncos’ 20-year anniversary celebration, the club announced a list of the 20 best players to play for them to date which included Walters.
Walters grew up playing football alongside future Brisbane Broncos (and Queensland) team mate Allan Langer and brothers Steve and his twin Kerrod Walters. This combination of players was known famously as The Ipswich Connection.
Glenn Lazarus is a former Australian international rugby league prop and a former Australian Senator.
After his retirement from football he assisted several NRL clubs in a coaching capacity.
In the 2013 federal election, Lazarus was elected to the Australian Senate for the state of Queensland as the lead Queensland candidate for the Palmer United Party (PUP).
He became PUP Senate leader at the commencement of his term in 2014. He quit PUP in 2015 citing issues with its leader Clive Palmer, and established his own political party, the Glenn Lazarus Team. He did not retain his seat in the 2016 federal election.
In 2000, Lazarus was awarded the Australian Sports Medal for his contribution to Australia’s international standing in rugby league. In 2003, he was one of the first four former players inducted into the Broncos’ official Hall of Fame.
In 2005, the western grandstand of Olympic Park Stadium was named the Glenn Lazarus stand in his honour.
In 2008, Lazarus was named in the list of Australia’s 100 Greatest Players (1908 — 2007), which was commissioned by the NRL and ARL to celebrate the code’s centenary year in Australia. That same year, New South Wales announced their rugby league team of the century, naming Lazarus at prop.
Lazarus has been 612 ABC Brisbane Breakfast rugby league tipster since 2008.
■ Tickets for Te Awamutu’s Special Olympics dinner are now on sale. Contact Shelley Blair 0272891877 [email protected] or Ross Collins 0274905164.
Te Awamutu swimmers, from left, Portia Johnson, Deshan Walallavita and Unity Collins (right) with head coach for aquatics at Special Olympics Te Awamutu, Shelley Blair (second from right) after gaining New Zealand selection for the World Summer Games.
Rugby league mates Kevin Walters and Glenn Lazarus to be guest speakers in Te Awamutu.