Former Kiwis captain Nathan Cayless and 250 Christchurch earthquake victims and emergency services workers arrive on the Gold Coast today to attend tomorrow night's Anzac rugby league test.
The New Zealand passengers on a charter flight will all be special guests at tomorrow night's clash between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos at Skilled Park, joined by 250 people and emergency workers from communities affected by Queensland's devastating floods earlier this year.
The National Rugby League has combined with the New Zealand, Australian, New South Wales and Queensland Rugby Leagues, the Gold Coast Titans, Jetstar and IHG to arrange a memorable weekend for the 500-strong group.
Cayless was in Christchurch with other NRL players yesterday for a day of community events before boarding today's special flight to the Gold Coast for a programme taking in not only the Anzac test but also a special pre-game luncheon function on Friday, a visit to a theme park on Saturday and attendance at the Warriors' ninth-round NRL clash against the Titans - also at Skilled Park - on Sunday.
The 250 passengers on the Christchurch flight comprise 90 emergency services workers plus folk from the local rugby league community who were badly affected by the earthquake disaster, all nominated by other families from rugby league clubs.
Tomorrow night's test, which was originally scheduled for Christchurch, will pay tribute to the courage affected communities have displayed in such dire adversity on both sides of the Tasman.
Before kick-off 50 Australian emergency services and defence personnel plus 90 of their New Zealand counterparts will unite in a lap of honour in front of a sold out Skilled Park crowd.
"The devastation caused by the Christchurch earthquake has been widespread and it has certainly hurt all the junior league clubs in the area," said Cayless, who has taken a week off from his job to be part of the trip.
"Anything we can do to help clubs, schools and the community in general get back on their feet is something I am proud to be part of.
"We just want the people of Christchurch to know we continue to think of them, we are here to help, and hopefully this will help put a few smiles on faces after what has been a very difficult time for everyone affected."
On Monday, Warriors and Titans players will visit Ipswich and Goodna as part of the NRL's 'Adopt A Club Programme', which encourages NRL clubs to partner with flood affected clubs or regions from across Australia to assist with fundraising efforts.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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