'Good opportunity for the fat blokes to play some footy'

CALEB HARRIS
Last updated 05:00 15/01/2014
sumo sevens
LOREN DOUGAN/FAIRFAX NZ
SUPERSIZE ME: Nathan ‘‘Chopper’’ Couch, Kerry Hargood, Brett Rudman, with ball boy Mitch Cockburn at Memorial Park.

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Few sights in rugby equal that of a lumbering front-rower's grin on finding himself with ball in hand and the tryline open.

Now the big boys will have a whole game to enjoy the feeling, as a quirky "sumo sevens" game adds to the anticipation around Masterton's pre-season Super Rugby Hurricanes-Blues game on February 1.

Highlights of the first hitout of the year for both teams include a possible Blues debut for glamour league import Benji Marshall, and the clash of former Wellington favourites Ma'a Nonu and Piri Weepu with their old teammates.

But the seven-a-side curtain raiser reserved for players weighing more than 105 kilograms may rob them of the limelight.

"It will be fast, furious and free-flowing - over the last five metres," Wairarapa Bush chief executive Tony Hargood said.

"There'll be a particular focus on front-rowers . . . working on the 105kg theory, we've really opened up a whole new group of people for sevens rugby."

Given the region's recent quakes, it might be better if "the fatties" did not focus too much on defence, he said.

"Diving for a try could be quite interesting - but I'm not expecting a lot of tackling."

Two 105kg-plus referees would be relieved to have to police only half the field each, he said.

Ex-Hurricanes and Fiji test star Bill Cavubati will captain one beefy side and Wairarapa Bush prop Finnbarr Kerr-Newell the other.

Kerr-Newell said he "idolised" Cavubati growing up, so was thrilled to mark him in the abbreviated form of the game.

"He was always 60 minutes of wonder and power, so if he can fit all that into 14 minutes, it's going to be epic."

Although Masterton policeman Nathan "Chopper" Couch was a midfielder in his playing days for Wairarapa-Bush, not a front-rower, an exception is being made so he can lend his 112kg frame to the cause.

He said front-rowers often talked up their skills, and now was their chance to prove them.

"I'll be wary of Billy Cavubati's goose-step." Former team-mate Brett Rudman, a 113kg prop, was looking forward to "actually touching the ball" in a game.

"It's a good opportunity for the fat blokes to play some footy instead of just lifting and pushing," he said.

Tui Brewery backs Wairarapa's hosting of the annual warmup match.

Commercial manager Nick Rogers said the "sumo sevens", sponsored by Kooga, would be one of three curtain-raising events, starting at 12.50pm. The main game starts at 3pm.

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- The Dominion Post

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