It's fair to say former Hawke's Bay age group rugby representative Laurent Simutaga has had his share of battles on and off the field.

A couple of broken legs and a regular battle with massive weight gain are at the top of the list. But prop Simutaga labels those battles as insignificant compared with those faced by children fighting cancer.

"For me it was the cause. Last night we met some of the kids we are fighting for ... one boy had been undergoing treatment for three years. He was all smiles.

"I've got one fight on Saturday night ... those kids have got a bigger fight and that's why I'm stepping into the ring. That's the main thing and the result isn't important to me," Simutoga said yesterday.


However Simutoga, a former French under-21 rugby rep, pointed out if he did beat Tokoroa's Richard Ogle in his debut Super Heavyweight Charity bout over three two minute rounds in Taradale's Pettigrew-Green Arena it would be an ideal early birthday gift as he turns 26 on Monday. If the success he has had in shedding 28 kilograms during the last two years can be transformed into success in the ring he could go close to beating Mixed Martial Arts fighter Ogle who will also be making his boxing debut and will also weigh in around the 134kg mark.

When Simutoga, a 2005-06 Lindisfarne College student, returned for his second stint in Hawke's Bay at the beginning of last year when he was 162kg.

"I got injured when I was playing in France. Then I experienced visa issues so I couldn't leave for New Zealand as fast as I wanted to so I went home to New Caledonia ... that killed me. Island life is too dangerous when it comes to keeping your fitness levels up," Simutoga explained.

Because he has two jobs, one as a boat loader at Hawke's Bay Seafoods and another as a house tutor at Lindisfarne College, Simutoga, hasn't played any rugby since the second round of Hawke's Bay's club competition in April.

However he is aiming to make a return to his old Hastings Rugby and Sports side next year. Those plans could change, however, if he does as well as trainer Scotty Thompson is predicting tomorrow night.

Thompson rates Simutoga's boxing potential so high he has placed him on the reserve list for the Kids Can Charity event in Auckland the following weekend.

13 Nov, 2013 6:00am
2 minutes to read

"This weekend is a challenge. I know I've got good power and a good hook but my fitness and footwork have needed major work since we started training eight weeks ago. In rugby I have to be solid and wide on my feet but in boxing I have to be light and narrow," Simutoga explained.

A father of two, three-year-old Dave (named after former Hawke's Bay Rugby Union referee education officer Greg Davey, who hosted Simutoga when he first arrived in the Bay) and 10-month-old Leia, Simutoga, was on the Magpies radar when he returned to the Bay last year.

"It will depend on my fitness. That's a step by step process," added the former La Rochelle player who was coached by Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie and toured Japan and England with the French Universities side.

Simutoga will be one of three current or former Hawke's Bay rugby representatives in action.

Long-serving Hawke's Bay Tuis rep Gemma Woods, who is well known for her feisty approach on the paddock, will take on Dee Aria from the Hawke's Bay Museum and former Hawke's Bay under-20s rep Manihera Eden will take on Nathan Hardaker from Conroys Removals.

Tomorrow night's feature bout will see Hawke's Bay's Beau O'Brien take on Taranaki's Daniel Maxwell for the vacant New Zealand Professional Boxing Association's light middleweight title. The fight is scheduled for 10 three-minute rounds.

It will be 22-year-old O'Brien's fourth professional fight but his first over 10 rounds. Maxwell, 36, has had 17 professional bouts, including two 10 rounders.

Fundraising and Business Development Manager for The Child Cancer Foundation Linda Walsh said her organisation receives no funding from the government or from any other cancer charities and relies on the generous support of New Zealanders to help fight the impact of child cancer.

All of the funds raised in Hawke's Bay go directly to support Hawke's Bay children and their families.

The foundation provides a dedicated family support coordinator from time of diagnosis, through treatment and beyond. It aims to reduce the impact of cancer by offering services to ensure children and their families are supported, informed and well cared for on their journey with cancer.

Support includes practical and financial assistance, the Beads of Courage programme, holiday homes and scholarships for children, siblings and parents.

The card

Norman Gray (PostHaste) v Lee Street (Bay Motorcycles)
Grant Stevenson (Woodstock) v Gavin Smith (Boulevard Services)
Alby Rewi (HB Stevedores) v Glenn Hart (PanPac)
Steve Clark (Boulevard Services) v Jamie Huff (Video Ezy)
Chantelle Ramage (Pro-Fruit) v Sarah-Jo Manaena (Home Executive)
Pete Roberts (Motorcycle Alley) v Jared Paul (Bidvest)
Gemma Woods (Shift Contractors) v Dee Aria (HB Museum Curator)
Nathan Hardaker (Conroys Removals) v Manihera Eden (Specialised Container Services)
Scott Jefferson (Lawyer) v Danuel Virjs (Station Bar - Chef)
Shane Lui (Electrotech) v Reihana Manaena (Laser Electrical)
Laurent Simutoga (Hawke's Bay Seafoods) v Richard Ogle (Courier Post - Tokoroa)
Beau O'Brien (Napier) v Daniel Maxwell (Taranaki).