It was a captain's run with a difference as sporting greats braved terrifying heights to put a spotlight on reducing suicide rates in the construction industry.
The daunting challenge, which took place 192m above busy central city streets at Auckland's SkyWalk yesterday afternoon, drew together a team of stars past and present from the realms of rugby union and league, golf, sailing and cricket to raise the profile of Mates in Construction, a charity dedicated to preventing suicide in the workplace.
Between 2017 and 2020 more than 160 construction workers died by suicide, with workers in the building industry five times more likely to die from suicide than a workplace accident.
"I heard Mark Richardson say he'd rather face Shoab Akhtar downwind but I think I'd probably do that than face Shoab Akhtar," said Black Cap bowler Tim Southee soon after completing the walk.
"I thought I was an adrenalin junkie but when I walked out that gate my knees were trembling," said All Black Caleb Clarke. "I was holding on to the rope really tightly. My hands are quite sore now!"
With family and friends involved in construction the effervescent All Black said he was thrilled to be part of the event.
"When I heard Mates and the work that they're doing with mental health I thought it was awesome because it's such a big problem here in New Zealand. I've lost of couple of friends to suicide so it is something I've always wanted to tackle. I'm really glad to be a part of the cause.
He said the sudden death of friend and former Blues player Michael Tamoaieta still shook him to the core with lingering regrets about their final conversation.
"He was one of the happiest guys I knew. I took that really hard when we found out the news because I was with him the day before he died. I thought I could have done more and wish I could have talked to him about something different," said Clarke.
"It's something that's always on my mind. Whenever I go out to play I always write his name on my wrist. He's someone I think about all the time."
Watching with admiration as the sporting greats stepped out, former Māori All Black and Mates field officer Slade McFarland had nothing but praise for their willingness to get on board.
The former professional rugby player said the workplace suicide toll was devastating and he was passionate about reversing it.
"We've got a big job in front of us. The construction industry is almost 250,000-strong. There's only nine of us and it's pretty hard for us to get around," he said.
While things would take time to change it was important to encourage those struggling with suicidal thoughts to know there was help out there.
"We're trying to bridge that gap," said McFarland.
"Men are very stoic. Just to even pluck up the courage to pick up the phone to ask for help is quite difficult and it's been part of a male psyche for a very long time.
"We need more funding to get more of us on the ground to support our men."
"The big thing is to get people support before it gets to that point and the more that we can create awareness and get that support in those opportunities to make a difference before it gets to those moments," said former Black Cap Nathan McCallum.
"We're pretty connected to that running a construction company and it's just cool to be involved in an event like this, to be able to promote that and support such a charity."
Where to get help:
• Lifeline: 0800 543 354 (available 24/7)
• Suicide Crisis Helpline: 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO) (available 24/7)
• Youthline: 0800 376 633
• Kidsline: 0800 543 754 (available 24/7)
• Whatsup: 0800 942 8787 (1pm to 11pm)
• Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)
• Rainbow Youth: (09) 376 4155
• Samaritans 0800 726 666
• If it is an emergency and you feel like you or someone else is at risk, call 111.