I did it... I accused one of the world's toughest rugby league players, world champion Kangaroo Sam Thaiday, of being scared.

When the Brisbane Broncos captain arrived in Hawke's Bay yesterday to promote the February 15 and 16 Auckland Nines he offered to meet at Napier's McLean Park rather than Hastings.

I suggested to Thaiday he was too scared to come to Hastings as some of Chiefs prop Ben Tameifuna's relations might catch up with him with the aim of carrying out some revenge in the wake of Thaiday's points victory in one of last weekend's undercard boxing bouts at the Fight for Life at Trusts Stadium in Auckland.

Thaiday, 28, appreciated the joke and after a chuckle went on to heap kudos on former Magpie Tameifuna.


"I've been playing in the NRL since I was 18. Ben is still maturing and in the future will be a fantastic player for the Chiefs and for the All Blacks... his time will come. Forwards get better with age ... look at the likes of Steve Price and Brad Thorn," he said.

Despite his victory against Tameifuna, Thaiday, said he wasn't looking at boxing as a second career.

"I'm no Sonny Bill Williams. That fight was for a good cause and I wanted to challenge myself. I now have new found respect for boxers and what they have to do."

The Queensland State of Origin star was also full of praise for another Hastings Boys' High School product, Melbourne Storm secondrower Tohu Harris, whom he has played against on a couple of occasions.

"Tohu was very unlucky not be in the Kiwis' World Cup team. That was one of the saddest stories I have ever heard," Thaiday said, referring to the fact Harris was forced to vacate his berth in the World Cup squad when Williams had a change of mind about his availability for the World Cup.

"That setback will make Tohu hungry.

"He knows he is close to regular Kiwis selection and with the talent in the young Kiwis squad coming through they will push us to the limits during the next few seasons."

Thaiday was surprised to hear Harris mentioned that the Storm camp wasn't too focused on the Nines when he was back in the Bay this month.

"I know how competitive the Storm outfit are. I'm sure they will field a quality side in Auckland and they will be gunning for a decent-sized chunk of the $2.6 million in prize money."

He agreed his Broncos side had drawn a tough pool alongside the Roosters, Eels and Bulldogs.

"It's going to be a tough tournament. Our first goal is to be the best Queensland team there and look out for that rivalry to kick in should we face the Titans or Cowboys at some stage.

"Every team will be all out to be the first side to have their name on the trophy ... I'm picking the Warriors to be the favourites as the event is in their city and being played for the first time."

Thaiday pointed out the Broncos club was generating plenty of support for the Nines. Club legend and former Kangaroos star Allan "Alfie" Langer is bringing a tour group.

"The aim is to try and sell out Eden Park. All the clubs involved want to make it as successful as rugby union's Wellington Sevens and I'm confident we will.

"The Auckland Nines isn't just for league fans it's also an opportunity for union fans to check out another version of league," Thaiday said.

While 2013 has been busy for Thaiday with a full NRL season, the Anzac test against the Kiwis, State of Origin and six World Cup games, he said he was looking forward to pre-season training starting on January 13.

"I'll put my feet up over Christmas and the Nines will be perfect pre-season training for me with short, sharp games and plenty of speed work. I'm sure a lot of the other players are thinking the same."

The weekend after the Nines the Broncos will play Manly in a pre-season game in Dunedin.

Thaiday did a top job promoting both events.

I tested his PR skills when I asked him go along with a prank at McLean Park. As we walked through the Hawke's Bay Rugby Union offices to McLean Park, I told Magpies coaches Craig Philpott and Danny Lee Thaiday was a bloke they might be interested in signing.

"What position would you be keen on?" Philpott asked the Kirwan State High School product.

"I don't know but I can kick goals," Thaiday replied.

Top marks to the Auckland Nines organisers for selecting Thaiday as one of your promoters ... the perfect choice for an event which, as he said, "should be a sellout".