The banter and the bashing started early as teams eyed up the competition for this year's ANZ Celebrity Challenge during the BMW ISPS Handa New Zealand Open.

Allan Border, Ricky Ponting, Stephen Fleming and Brendon McCullum were looking relaxed as they met in the Champions Lounge at The Hills today before play starts tomorrow.

While Ponting's renowned as a scratch player who always does well during the event, Border admitted to being "a very honest 10 handicap" while McCullum and Fleming play off 10 and 9 respectively.

And then came the downplaying of abilities.


"I've talked myself into a whole lot of anxiety for this week," said McCullum. "I do play quite a bit of golf, roughly 90 to 95 shots a round," he joked.

"This is a great gig to have first up after cricket and my back's not too bad, although I will use it as an excuse if it's not going well."

Border admitted that teeing off on the first tee tomorrow would be "a toughy".

"It's really nerve-wracking being on the first tee; you're totally out of your comfort zone, but it's all good, serious fun.

"Australia versus New Zealand has a great history across all sports."

Ponting said he had really enjoyed the past couple of years playing at the tournament.

"I'm looking forward to it and there's always been a bit of banter. We just totally try to get in the way of the Kiwis."

And the last word went to Border, on the subject of Australian funnyman Glenn Robbins, beloved by many as the hapless Kel in hit Aussie comedy Kath and Kim.

"There will be no short shorts, they've been banned," he said. "And Glenn's got really hairy legs so we don't want to see that!"