Shauni James is a Rotorua Daily Post reporter

Bay of Plenty Steamers visit Children's Unit (+video)

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Rugby passes and poster signings were just some of the action at the Rotorua Hospital Children's Unit when Bay of Plenty Steamers paid a visit today.

Nathan Harris, Jordan Lay, Lalakai Foketi and Chase Tiatia took their mascot Steamie to visit the hospital, giving out team posters and rugby ball toys to children and their families.

Steamer and All Black, Harris said previously they had been more engaged in primary schools, where there had been a lot of talk around the likes of bullying, so this was something different.

"We wanted to venture out into the community more and get involved with all types of kids."

Harris said being a professional rugby player there were a lot of things which were given to you, and some people can take for granted what they have.

"Having things like this is a bit of a realisation of what families go through."

He said doing these sorts of visits "keeps you grounded", and was motivational in terms of training and doing their best for the children and the wider community.

Lay said it was his first time doing this sort of thing and it was "a good buzz" making people smile.

He said little gestures like this could go a long way for someone.

"It does feel quite uplifting doing something special like this. Personally, I would like to do it more."

Children's Unit clinical nurse manager Bridget Wilson said they had had rugby teams through previously but not for a long time.

"We are delighted that they have been able to make the time to come and see the kids."

She said one of the things she had been seeing was the delight and smiles it had brought the children.

The players were also people which could inspire them, she said.

Winter could be a stressful time with a lot of admissions and the visit had "brought a lot of happiness to the ward", she said.

Ms Wilson said they looked forward to seeing the team come again.

"The Children's Unit wish them all the best for their game and the rest of the season."

Mother Raewyn Kawana said it was exciting to have the players and mascot come through.

She said they did not get to go to the big games and just saw them on television, so it was exciting to see them come around.

"I think it's a great idea. It's so good for our tamariki."

Jane Junior Oakley Hudson's, 6, father Ross Hudson said visits like this picked up everyone's spirits.

The Bay of Plenty Steamers will be taking on Northland at the Rotorua International Stadium at 5.45pm tonight.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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