Stars make day for youngsters
Pressing the flesh with the ABsZARYD WILSON
Team Mealamu matched up against Team Faumuina when a pair of All Blacks visited Feilding Intermediate during a quick tour of Manawatu yesterday.
Rugby stars Kevin Mealamu and Charlie Faumuina had to change codes for the morning when they played capture the ball with Room 9 pupils at the school.
The All Blacks were in Manawatu as part of a radio competition, visiting pupils at Feilding Intermediate, Central Normal School, College Street Normal School, and signing autographs at the New Zealand Rugby Museum.
Four All Blacks were supposed to visit, but Sam Cane and hometown hero Aaron Cruden were unable to travel after their flight was grounded due to poor weather.
Feilding Intermediate pupil Ashlee Scott, who won the visit through a radio promotion, said she was happy to be able to give her classmates a rare glimpse at their sporting idols.
"Our class is a really sporty class and a lot of us like rugby," she said.
"I'm really excited, I can't stop smiling."
While they may be on top of the rugby world, Ashlee said the pair had room for improvement in schoolyard game Capture the Ball.
They were "good for starters, I guess", she said.
A 100-plus test veteran, Tokoroa-born Mealamu said it was great for the players to keep strong connections with smaller towns.
"A lot of us are from smaller towns, it's pretty cool, we'll never be able to come down here and play," he said. For the record, Team Faumuina took out the game with a score of 3-1.
A collection of parents and pupils from other schools also turned up to have a peek at the stars.
Rugby Museum director Stephen Berg said the event there, which drew about 200 people, was a great success.
At the museum was Cloverlea School's Jamie Thompson, 10, who won a competition to interview the All Blacks.
He said he was excited to meet them and planned to ask them how they handled the pressure of test matches.
- © Fairfax NZ News