By Simon Hendery
Rugby star Eric Rush will tour South Auckland schools preaching road safety as part of his sentence for causing a fatal car smash.
The former All Black and New Zealand sevens captain was yesterday ordered to do 200 hours' community service, pay more than $15,000 reparation and lost his driver's licence for 18 months.
His lawyer, Chris Morris, told the Auckland District Court that Rush was a gifted public speaker. A number of Franklin and South Auckland schools were interested in having him carry out his community service by speaking to students as part of a Maori youth anti-bullying programme.
Outside court, a Pukekohe youth aid officer, Senior Constable Mike Tod, said police were keen to take advantage of Rush's public profile to spread road safety and anti-violence messages to at-risk students.
Last October, Rush pleaded guilty to charges of careless driving causing the death of 23-year-old Brendon Malcolm, of Tauranga, and careless driving causing injury to Mr Malcolm's wife, Claire, and a passenger in the couple's car, Bryce Casey.
Rush, driving a borrowed Ford Falcon, was travelling from a rugby training camp in Rotorua to a speaking engagement in Auckland on August 10. His car failed to take a bend on State Highway 2 and smashed head-on into the Malcolms' car near Mangatawhiri, north-east of Pokeno.
This week, the 34-year-old Rush also admitted a charge of dangerous driving - overtaking on a double yellow line just minutes before the fatal smash.
In court, Mr Morris said Rush had been deeply affected by the incident and had required professional counselling as a result.
He had expressed his pain and grief to a representative of the families of the victims and a mutually agreed reparation figure of $15,247 would be paid.
Mr Morris said Rush took a corner too fast on a greasy road at a notorious accident black spot.
Judge Jane Lovell-Smith said Rush would be treated the same as anyone else facing similar charges. Misjudging the corner was "a common error, but in this case with tragic consequences."
Pictured: Eric Rush. HERALD PICTURE / GLENN JEFFREY