No 'biffo' in league battle of burbs

'It's a fellowship between brothers'

PAUL EASTON
Last updated 05:00 15/12/2012
Poasa Poasa
KEVIN STENT/Fairfax NZ
FRIENDLY CONTEST: Poasa Poasa, left, and Paulo Aukuso warm up for the 10th annual Flatliners v Hillbillies rugby league match, between friends from Miramar and Strathmore respectively.

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It's the battle of the burbs, mate against mate in the eastern suburbs of Wellington.

Today marks the 10th anniversary of the annual Flatliners v Hillbillies rugby league match, between friends from Miramar and Strathmore respectively.

"First and foremost it's a fellowship between brothers. We go hard on the field, but we always mingle with each other afterwards," said Hillbillies manager and former player Lui Visesio-Skelton.

The Hillbillies and Flatliners began in 2003, when members of a church group called the Christian Warriors had a barbecue and a game of touch.

The teams were chosen by suburb of origin, and a tradition was born.

"We thought it would be cool to emulate the State of Origin," Mr Visesio-Skelton said.

There is one difference to the State of Origin, however - no biffo is allowed.

"It's a Christian event, so we go hard on the field, but none of that stuff is tolerated."

The fixture has seen some big name rugby players turn out for the rival code. "We've even had league scouts turn up."

All Black Julian Savea and his brother, Ardie, have both played, as has dynamic Hurricanes prop Motu Matu'u, who this year put two Melbourne Rebels players in hospital with massive hits.

"He goes pretty hard out."

All Black Ma'a Nonu made a special guest appearance as a referee one year. "He grew up in Strathmore but moved to Miramar, so he was pretty fair."

For the 10th year the event has grown, with corporate sponsorship, and its own Facebook page.

Yesterday Ories team-mates Poasa Poasa, 24, and Paulo Aukuso, 26, were getting ready to do battle on the field.

"It's all about the community," Mr Poasa said.

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- The Dominion Post

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