The Blues coaching team demand a lot of their players during the season, expecting them to put their bodies on the line every game, but this time around it is the management who are putting in the hard yards for one of their cancer stricken players.
While most of the team are enjoying some down time before pre-season training commences, head coach Pat Lam, along with a host of the Blues management team including the doctor, physiotherapist, strength and conditioning coach and video analyst, have been pounding the pavement in preparation for the Auckland Marathon on October 30.
It’s all in an effort to raise funds for Blues lock Kurtis Haiu who was forced to hang up the boots indefinitely in April after being diagnosed with bone cancer. The money donated to Haiu’s Trust will be used for his ongoing treatment as well as going to his young family.
By the time the Blues management team line up at the start of the 42.195 km race they will have run almost 700 km in preparation – further than the distance between Auckland’s Eden Park and Westpac Stadium in Wellington. It’s a far cry from the ritual 5km Blues management runs on game day, but Lam said it was all for an extremely worthy cause.
“As a management team we always run on the morning of a game and one of the guys once mentioned doing a marathon but I said ‘don’t be stupid’ but as soon as Kurtis was diagnosed with cancer we decided we should do it for him,” Lam said.
“Kurtis constantly puts his body on the line for the team and gives everything on the field, and when you consider the amount of injuries we’ve had with locks over the years with Ali Williams and Anthony Boric both ruled out for extended periods, the person who always filled that hole for the team was Kurtis.
“I often talk as a coach about putting it on the line for each other and now one of my players needs help as he faces the biggest test of his life so it’s time we put our bodies on the line for him. Just training for the marathon there’s a lot of pain involved and my body aches everywhere but when you think about what Kurtis is going through it doesn’t really compare at all.”
27-year-old Haiu, who made his Blues debut in 2006 and has racked up 53 caps for the franchise, said it was an incredibly kind gesture.
“It’s pretty special to think they’re doing this to help me out and I’m very touched by their showing of support,” he said.
“They’ll be fitter than most of the players by now so it’s going to be tough for the guys come pre-season training,” he quipped.
Donations to the Trust will be available from tomorrow afternoon, with confirmed details to be posted on the Blues website – www.theblues.co.nz
‘Team Malo’ Auckland Marathon participants
Pat Lam, head coach
Mark Harvey, head strength and conditioning coach
Craig Lister, assistant manager
Stephen Kara, doctor
Mark Plummer, physiotherapist
Troy Webber, video analyst
Ash Draper, assistant physiotherapist
Iain Cleland, assistant strength and conditioning coach
Ben Meyer, former Blues player and professional development manager
James Rigby, website manager / communications assistant