Rugby Players' Association boss Rob Nichol believes Fight for Life will help avoid player burnout and organisers have praised the NRL and New Zealand Rugby Union's flexibility.
End-of-year tour hopeful Hika Elliot, former All Black Troy Flavell and Blues star Rene Ranger were yesterday announced as head-line rugby competitors who will join Carlos Spencer in the charity boxing event on December 15 in Auckland.
NSW State of Origin enforcers Greg Bird and Paul Gallen were also added to the league team that includes former Kiwi Jarrod McCracken and Willie Mason.
Liam Messam's involvement in last year's event, along with Kiwi dummy-half Issac Luke, set the tone for current players to follow. Previously, only recently retired players had featured.
Elliot is case in point. The Hawke's Bay and Chiefs hooker is in line for the All Blacks and Maori squads that tour Europe next month, but his commitment to box will see him take a specialist trainer away with him.
Nichol was comfortable with those implications and felt the extra daily training would help, rather than hinder, his on-field performance.
"One of the key things you can do to avoid the symptoms and implications of burnout is to be exposed to different environments," Nichol said. "It will be well managed and co-ordinated as you saw with Liam and Sonny Bill Williams.
"There's no issue. It's great they've identified with the [prostate cancer] cause. Boxing is not totally foreign. It is great conditioning for them and it gets them outside the rugby parameters."
Elliott was thankful the NZRU had granted him permission to take part.
"Liam was involved last year and Sonny had his fight this year so I praise them in terms of being able to offer some current rugby players for the fight card."
Promoter Dean Lonergan said he could hand pick players with the NZRU's blessing and expected the relationship to continue. "The NZRU allows me to have the pick of any four guys I want," Lonergan said.
"We're continually trying for All Blacks. We've got one or two announcements to make but I can assure you this is by far the best lineup."
- © Fairfax NZ News