'Big risk' in Taupo NRL match for organisers

STEVE KILGALLON
Last updated 10:18 03/04/2011

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An All Black, a league legend and a music promoter who worked with Mariah Carey admit they've taken a "big risk" in bringing the NRL to tiny Taupo this afternoon.

KickIt Events, a collaboration between former Cronulla Sharks fullback David Peachey, local events promoter Roxi Douglas and consultant Frano Botica, is underwriting today's game between the Sharks and the Warriors at Owen Delany Park.

Peachey has spent the past six months living in Taupo, his wife Ora's home town, having relocated at the request of Sharks chairman Damien Irvine. He's spent the time since organising today's game and playing club league for the Taupo Phoenix.

Yesterday, Peachey was driving nervously around town finalising arrangements, while Botica was on the golf course at Wairakei, hosting the last promotional activity.

"The Sharks went to Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland, but they liked the feel of what Taupo offered," Peachey says. "When the chairman came over, he liked the town and we went from there – and here we are, hours away from an NRL game in Taupo. It's never been done in a rural area before, it hasn't even been done in a rural area in New South Wales or Queensland. But the community have made them feel at home."

The deal to take the fixture to Taupo is for three years, with options to extend that by up to another six. "It is quite a risk," admits Peachey. "It has been six months of my life, to pack up the family and make it successful, but I bled for that club and it's a little way for me to put something back."

With the Sharks winning their last two games, what initially seemed a sensible business decision is weighing on Peachey's mind and he admits he'll feel guilty if their run ends tomorrow. But while he can't control the result, he says Taupo is ready for the big show. "We're more than happy. But we'll know at 4.30pm if we've done a good enough job."

Douglas said pre-sales stood at more than 5000 by 1pm yesterday, and after consulting near-neighbours Rotorua, who have hosted several major league games in recent years, is expecting at least 8600 to turn up; Peachey hopes for 12,000. "And we're praying for sun," said Douglas.

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