Stephen Donald, Carlos Spencer, Mils Muliaina, and more: Pack the Park squads revealed

02 September 2020
Stephen Donald, Carlos Spencer, Mils Muliaina, and more: Pack the Park squads revealed

The day has finally arrived: members of the squads set to play at Pack the Park 2020 have been revealed. Most of them, anyway. Among them? Celebrated names like Stephen Donald, Ma’a Nonu and more.

To pay tribute to the community that has supported its cause – and to mark the first anniversary of the death of cancer care advocate, Blair Vining – the Southland Charity Hospital will bring Pack the Park to Rugby Park in Invercargill on 17 October. The game will see the Sir Graham Henry and Chris Cairns-coached AB Lime Blair Vining XV take on the ITM Invitational XV, coached by Israel Dagg and Joseph Parker.

This morning, charity hospital board member Melissa Vining and former Southland and All Black representative Corey Flynn revealed the marquee names set to take part. Among them are union superstars including Stephen ‘Beaver’ Donald – the unlikely hero of the All Blacks’ 2011 Rugby World Cup win – Ma’a Nonu, Ali Williams, and even Carlos Spencer. Southland fan favourites Jimmy Cowan and Jason Rutledge, as well as former All Blacks Mils Muliaina and Pita Alatini, will also make an appearance. Adding to the excitement, Otago stalwarts Brendan Laney, Kelvin Middleton, and John Blaikie have also been named. They will play alongside friends and former teammates of Blair Vining.

“Both of the teams are stacked with incredible players, which is amazing,” Vining says. “We’re so pleased so many of them were willing to get on board with Pack the Park, to say thanks to the people of Southland and Otago.”

The Southland Charity Hospital would also be revealing further players during the coming weeks, through its ‘Guess Who’ social media campaign on Facebook. Three clues will be released about a selected player throughout the week, with the big reveal set to happen on the Southland Charity Hospital’s Facebook page every Thursday night. Fans who correctly guess the players go in the draw to win a jersey signed by members of both teams.

“It’s such a star-studded roster. A special mention has to go to Corey Flynn. He’s been a huge supporter of the charity hospital since the very beginning. It’s thanks to him that so many of the guys have agreed to come out of retirement and play for us. All of his arm twisting has definitely paid off, and we hope the crowd really enjoy coming out and seeing so many rugby heroes out on the field,” Vining says.

Pack the Park will be followed by gala dinner The Aftermatch at the spectacular Bill Richardson Transport World. Master of ceremonies, television personality Scotty ‘Sumo’ Stevenson, will preside over a sold-out crowd of almost 700 people. The event sold-out mere hours after tickets went on sale.

Pack the Park will be the curtain-raiser to the Mitre 10 Cup fixture that will see Southland take on Taranaki. General admission to the terraces is free, and does not require a ticket. Grandstand tickets are also available. Tickets will give punters entry to both the Pack the Park game and the Mitre 10 Cup fixture following it, which will see the Southland Stags take on Taranaki. Tickets are now available at ILT Stadium Southland or www.ticketek.co.nz. Meanwhile, sales will also be available on the day, subject to availability.

Squads –

AB Lime Blair Vining XV
Stephen Donald, Blair Vining, Carlos Spencer, Ma'a Nonu, Graham Henry, Chris Cairns

Squad: Andrew Hore, Ali Williams, Bryce Casey (captain), Jason Rutledge, Corey Flynn, Jimmy Cowan, Stephen Donald, Ma’a Nonu, Carlos Spencer, Pita Alatini, Daniel Pinn, Mils Muliaina, Ben McHugh, Brian ‘Norty’ Anderson, Damian Pulley, Craig Robins, Joe Robins, Quinn Robins, Al Jones, James Caldwell, Matt O’Connell, Scott Carmody, Mana Harrison

Coach: Sir Graham Henry

Assistant coach: Chris Cairns

Hydration specialist: Corey Price

Doctor: Peter Finlayson

Physio: Karl McDonald, SportsMed Southern Physiotherapy

Manager: Derek Cowie

ITM Invitational XV
Matt Watson, ITM Fishing Show, Joseph Parker

Davin Heaps, Tii Tii Paulo, John Blaikie, Kelvin Middleton, Hale T-Pole, Matt Watson (captain), Andy Ellis, Brendon Laney, Dwayne Sweeney, Neil Brew, Shaun Vining, Willie Walker, Callum Rutledge, Pete Thomson, John Officer, Tere Cummings, Chris Menzies, Brendon Mitchell, Craig Valli, Hayden Gentle, Vinnie Cruickshank, Gregor Laughton

Coach: Israel ‘Izzy’ Dagg

Assistant coach: Joseph Parker

Hydration specialist: Brad Anderson

Physio: Craig McColl, Windsor Street Physio

For further information, please contact Southland Charity Hospital communications manager Alana Dixon-Calder on 027 7428 817.

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