Boxing: Ranger gets early jabs in on rival Bird

By Cameron Leslie

Rene Ranger isn't fazed by Greg Bird's reputation as a brawler on the field ahead of their December 15 Fight For Life showdown, saying he would rather "flick over to Shortland Street first" before watching the league hardman.

The Taniwha rugby great expected Bird to come out swinging in what Ranger believes will be a tough fight - a challenge he hopes he is ready for.

"It's pretty tough, for myself I'm a laidback sort of guy and I try not to take things too seriously but probably come day you'll be switched on after you get a few thwacks in the head," said Ranger. "He's a bit of a brawler on the field as everyone says.

"But, end of the day it's just two guys slugging it out, like on the rugby field, but it's not 15 against 15: it's one-on-one.

"We're smashing each other up just to help out that cause of prostate cancer, it's all about having fun," said the bustling outside back.

"We're not serious boxers, full credit to the serious ones, but you know they do some hard work and hard yards, but for us it's a bit of fun and about that cause."

Nearly one month into his boxing career, Ranger is yet to research his aggressive opponent fully after having only accidently come across him on YouTube.

"I think I was looking up league hits and he was one of the guys who did one of the hits; other than that I don't know too much about him.

"I do watch a bit of league, but you know I'm not the one to flip over to league first thing, I'd flick over to Shortland Street first.

"I heard he's a hard man so it'll be a good contest."

Ranger said the challenge had been not only in learning how to box, but also managing two sports simultaneously with pre-season training for the Blues starting on December 10.

"It's a bit hard trying to jiggle the boxing training with the rugby because I'm trying to do the rugby training in the morning and then I've got boxing in the afternoon ... you get home and you just want to crash out."

Ranger said Blues coach John Kirwan was excited at the prospect of seeing Ranger put himself out there for a good cause, with the bonus being extra pre-season training for the three-test All Black.

During the season Ranger said he has had little contact with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen over the season but the two have exchanged words.

"During the season just gone he gave me a few heads up on what to work on ... just general stuff, like work rate, skills, option taking, stuff I already know. I guess it's a just a matter of me working on them."

Ranger said being selected for the All Blacks again was a goal of his, but concedes there is a lot of talent coming through.

However, with the Fight For Life less than three weeks away Ranger will be focusing on getting in the ring to learn what he needs to do to win.

- NORTHERN ADVOCATE

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