Crusaders paint Okains red

RICHARD KNOWLER
Last updated 05:00 29/01/2013
Robbie Fruean, Dominic Bird and Andy Ellis of the Crusaders help paint the museum near Okains Bay.
JOSEPH JOHNSON/Fairfax NZ

FRESHENING UP: Robbie Fruean, Dominic Bird and Andy Ellis of the Crusaders help paint the museum near Okains Bay.

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Not a rugby ball was sighted as a bunch of Crusaders flapped paint brushes and lugged rocks at Okains Bay yesterday.

The eight, including All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock on his first day back from holiday, had little time to enjoy the area's scenic splendour.

They painted a building at the Okains Bay Maori and Colonial Museum and collected rocks from nearby Stony Bay.

The reason for putting some of the region's most expensive sportsmen to work was simple - Waitangi Day is looming, the museum needed a spruce-up and the hangi across the road required some stones to be heated for the feast.

"This is just a way of giving back to the community and also allows the players in this group to get to know each other," assistant coach Dave Hewett said.

"We are in camp in Akaroa for a couple of nights, will do some training and also have some interesting exercises planned for the guys."

A group of locals formed a welcoming committee for the volunteers at Okains Bay, including children in their kapa haka uniforms and former museum trust board chairman Nigel Hampton, QC.

Transport to Stony Bay was simple but efficient and a far cry from the air-conditioned buses that will ferry the players around Sydney, Cape Town and Durban later in the season.

This was the open-air variety. The players were loaded onto the back of a ute, carted off to the beach and put to work.

As part of a team-building programme, the Crusaders squad was split into four groups on Sunday. The other groups were sent to Timaru, Greymouth and Nelson and will meet at an undisclosed location this week.

The Crusaders' opening pre-season match is against the Hurricanes in Timaru on Saturday.

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- The Press

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