Crusaders turn up the heat

00:24, Jan 29 2013
ON THE BENCH: Crusaders Tom Taylor, left, Matt Todd, Adam Whitelock and Willi Heinz, background, cook dinner for Marist club’s ‘‘good sort’’ Dion Hall, right, and his family.

Tahunanui "good sort" Dion Hall was rewarded for his service to club rugby with a home-cooked meal, whipped up by four players from the Canterbury Crusaders.

Mr Hall and his four sons were treated by their favourite franchise, the Crusaders, last night as part of the team's pre-season community service campaign.

Adam Whitelock, Willi Heinz, Matt Todd and Tom Taylor played out of position pretending to be chefs on the night, putting together an impressive spread of lamb chops, chicken, "roasties" and salad.

Whitelock, put in charge of the barbecue, admitted he was a little out of his element in front of the oven.

"I cook for myself a bit, but I wouldn't say I have any skills.

"Toddy [Blackadder] would be sweet with it. Meat and three veges, it's all good."


Les Edwards, of the Tasman Rugby Union, said Mr Hall's award was "all about rewarding good sorts who put in the hard yards for rugby clubs behind the scenes".

It was all a big surprise to humble Mr Hall.

"Les just rang me up on Friday and told me," he said. "It is pretty awesome to be nominated, let alone win."

Mr Hall has been an age-grade coach with the Marist Rugby Club for seven years, and is "just a part of the scene", according to club chairman Colin Lott.

Junior club captain Kathleen Thornalley nominated Mr Hall for the award, which was vied for by clubs from across the Nelson region.

"He has just got that personality with the boys that they respond to really well. He has that charismatic personality. "And his wife, Olivia, is always there with a barbecue, oranges at halftime, or baking. Nothing is ever too hard for this family," Mrs Thornalley said.

Mrs Hall was in Auckland on the night, missing the meal and the madness of 12 red-and-black face-painted kids running around the house. "She's a huge part of it," Mr Hall said. "But she'd be stoked she's out of the chaos I think."

Todd also admitted he wasn't the team's best cook, but said he enjoyed supporting grass-roots rugby. "I guess the backbone behind all clubs are the volunteers and that is the heart and soul of footy and they make it possible."