Four All Blacks greats to headline Tauranga Gala Dinner

By Peter White

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EXPERT INSIGHT: Tauranga Gala Dinner speakers in former All Blacks Josh Kronfeld, Jeff Wilson, Ian Jones and Eric Rush. PHOTO/FILE tpRugbyGala
EXPERT INSIGHT: Tauranga Gala Dinner speakers in former All Blacks Josh Kronfeld, Jeff Wilson, Ian Jones and Eric Rush. PHOTO/FILE tpRugbyGala

All Blacks legend Jeff Wilson does not do much after dinner speaking.

He prefers to leave that to the undisputed king of the genre among former All Blacks in Eric Rush.

But when he was offered the chance to join Rush, Josh Kronfeld and Ian Jones as keynote speakers at the Tauranga Gala Dinner on September 22 he jumped at the chance.

"To be honest I don't do a lot of these engagements but I saw the quality of people they had involved in Josh and Kamo (Jones) and Rushy," Wilson said.

"These are good opportunities to get together with some mates and share our experiences in rugby and help people understand maybe how things have changed.

"Look I know these guys really well obviously having played with all three of them. They all have great stories to tell and I think that is one of the reasons I am excited to be part of it.

"They have all gone on to do vastly different things after their playing careers. They have all played with some incredibly entertaining people.

"Those experiences to talk about are based in and around rugby, some are outside rugby, but there is a common theme and bond we all have of being part of the All Blacks."

Trying to keep the other three in order as MC is something Wilson is looking forward to.

"The way I believe you get the best out of these guys is to get them relaxed so they can roast each other," he said.

"I'm usually a target anyway so that doesn't make any difference whatsoever.

"We are going to have a lot of fun with this particularly because of the different personalities across the four of us means you are going to get different perspectives on all sorts of things.

"My job is to keep everything flowing but in the end it will be a matter of shutting them up."

A separate charity fundraiser will be held during the evening for the Graeme Dingle Foundation (formerly the Foundation for Youth Development).

It helps out thousands of local children and youth through programs like Kiwi Can and Project K.

Wilson says the four ex-players "are pleased to help a foundation that is obviously doing some fantastic work".

"Anytime you can get involved with something like this you would like to think there is an element of giving back to the community and being able to support all sorts of charities.

"This one in particular with Graeme is great. If you can help kids get through challenges in life you are doing a good thing.

"For all four us there is the entertainment side of things but there is always the serious business of how can we help people and support things in the community.

"We are there to have some fun but some good will come out of it as well."

Tauranga Gala Dinner
Date: Thursday September 22
Venue: ASB Baypark Arena
Time: 7pm
Booking tables, tickets: www.taurangagaladinner.co.nz

- Bay of Plenty Times

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