Champion rower already feels a little unglued just thinking about facing league star.

Manu Vatuvei's head is about twice the size of Eric Murray's. That's the first thing you notice when the league player and the champion rower square off at a promotional appearance ahead of Saturday night's charity boxing match.

Scan down and it becomes apparent that a vastly more significant cranium isn't the league player's only physical advantage. Vatuvei is a ripped 106kg thanks to his brush with boxing, down from his playing weight of up to 118kg. Murray, by his own account, is "a bit pudgy" at 98kg.

Physically it's a mismatch of proportions not seen since radio host Mark Watson's ill-advised calling out of not-so-fat-anymore cricketer Jesse Ryder for Dean Lonergan's last celebrity biffo night, June's Godfather of All Fight Nights.

With a jab that is about as stiff as a sherry trifle, Murray's pad work doesn't inspire any confidence this "contest" will be any more competitive that Ryder's demolition of the hapless Watson. This could get ugly.


A national hero could come seriously unstuck here, even if putting his hand up to fight Vatuvei suggests he is already a little unglued.

"Yeah, possibly," Murray says to a suggestion he might end up looking a bit silly if he is knocked out early.

"That's one thing that we hope won't happen. We've gone out there to train to make sure things like that won't come about.

"In rowing the mental thing is making sure you are ready for the whole entire journey, that two kilometres. This is the same."

No, it's not. Then again, Murray does spend a lot of time sitting on his backside in his day job.

We can think what we like about the virtues of non-fighters slugging each other for our entertainment, but there's no denying the public's interest has been piqued by this match-up. And there's even a school of thought that Murray has a chance.

Spot the difference
Manu Vatuvei
Nickname: The Beast
Age: 26
Height: 1.89m
Weight: 106kg
Day job: Bone-crushing ball runner for the Warriors and Kiwis.

Eric Murray
Nickname: None
Age: 30
Height: 1.96 m
Weight: 98 kg
Day job: Champion rower, national hero.