North actor to play World Cup hero
Back at school, Troy Kingi used to play rugby with All Black Piri Weepu.
Now the Northland musician and actor is playing him.
Kingi has the part of Weepu in The Kick - an upcoming film about the 2011 Rugby World Cup final.
A Great Southern Television production for TV One's Sunday Theatre, The Kick follows the journey of first-five Stephen Donald, who was called up from a whitebaiting trip to play in the final after three first-fives were injured.
Donald slotted a vital penalty that helped win the All Blacks the William Webb Ellis trophy.
Weepu also achieved folk hero status after calming a wobbly All Black ship in a quarter-final, resulting in the catch-cry, "Keep calm, Piri's on".
Kingi, who lives in Kerikeri, went to Te Aute College in Hawke's Bay with Weepu.
"He was always really great, like a man playing with a bunch of boys. "Whatever team he was in then they were my team.
"I was a Hurricanes fan when he was playing with them and when he finally made the All Blacks it was really cool."
Kingi will begin filming in a few weeks' time and has been getting in shape for the role.
"I've played rugby but I've never been really great at it," he said.
"I've been running and going to the gym and trying to eat healthily."
And as much as actors like to emulate the people they are playing, there's one Weepu characteristic Kingi can't copy.
Kingi is around 1.92m tall - Weepu is 14cm shorter. "I never in my life thought I'd be a halfback.
"I've always been a forward," Kingi said.
He hopes to be in touch with Weepu before filming starts to discuss the role.
Weepu was instrumental in the All Blacks' semifinal win against Argentina and was the subject of a flurry of T-shirts and memorabilia with "Keep calm, Piri's on" written on them.
"I'll try my best to bring a bit of that to the role."
Kingi is known for his role of Hone, older brother of lead character Turei, played by Stan Walker, in Mt Zion.
He has been a music and kapa haka teacher at Kerikeri High School but is not teaching this year.
Recently he has been part of the Winery Tour, playing with Stan Walker's band for five weeks around the country.
Kingi will be starring alongside David de Lautour in the lead role of Stephen Donald, Tim Foley as Richie McCaw and Josh McKenzie as Dan Carter.
Filming started this week. A screening date has not been released.
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