4.30pm news, Saturday Breakfast off menu

Neither TVNZ's Saturday Breakfast nor its weekday 4.30pm news bulletin is returning next year. Key sponsor New Zealand Lotteries did not renew sponsorship of the Saturday show, the network said.

"While editorially we have been proud of Saturday Breakfast, without key sponsorship, the commercial reality is that it is not sustainable," news boss Ross Dagan told The Diary.

NZ Lotteries confirmed it ended its sponsorship relationship with the show "several months ago", but it continues to work with TVNZ on other projects.


Dagan said he would instead use resources to focus on refreshing the weekday Breakfast programme, which will be fronted by Rawdon Christie and Toni Street - ironically the original Saturday Breakfast hosts.

TVNZ may blame the loss of commercial backer, but Saturday Breakfast was doomed when Christie was transferred to Breakfast following Corin Dann's move to the press gallery, and Street went on maternity leave.

TVNZ will also not continue the 4.30pm news bulletin next year. In a statement on TVNZ's website, Dagan said the resourcing would go to the online news service instead.

Eric Murray trains with an All Black

It will be a battle of the sporting codes when gold-medallist rower Eric Murray takes on league hard man Manu Vatuvei in the boxing ring on Saturday, but the Olympian turned to another sports star for help this week - All Black Liam Messam.

The flanker played sparring partner for Murray on Monday in the buildup to his bout with Vatuvei and said he was impressed with the 1.96m rower's form.

"Eric's a big fellow, he throws long punches, he's got heavy hands. He'll do well in the ring. And he's got a massive heart, you know, a big work ethic. I can see why he won that gold medal. I watched him train, he busted his arse off - then he did six rounds with me." Messam told The Diary.

Asked who he backs to win the bout, the All Black was too diplomatic. "Ah, I can't answer that ... they're both my mates!"

Murray, 30, has a gaggle of gold medals, but he told The Diary the honours and the rowing experience are of little use for this challenge.

"It's a completely different sort of discipline. Rowing is all about endurance, but in boxing, the training is short and sharp. It's two-minute rounds of high intensity. I'm using different muscle groups and the physicality is unusual too. I'm not used to throwing punches."

Murray, no stranger to hugs and tears on the podium, has dedicated 10 weeks of training at a Hamilton gym for this bout.

It's Murray the Mo v Manu the Grill. "People are saying it's the gold medal against the gold teeth," Murray laughed through his trademark handlebar moustache.

Vatuvei, dubbed "The Beast" by league fans, is covered in tattoos - and then there's those gleaming gold molars. He knows the nickname and the embellishments make him appear scary - but Murray says he's not shaking in his high-tops.

"The idea is to win. I'd love to win. I don't think I'll beat Manu by K.O. [knockout]. I've got to score the most points over three rounds."

Murray is confident. He says he's put all his faith in his team - trainer Rick Ellis, assistant coach Eske Dost and sparring partner Mark Bourneville, a former league player and boxer.

What about his Olympic rowing buddies? "They think I'm mad.

"Most of them will be there on Saturday ... there'll be Nathan [Cohen], Mahe [Drysdale], Bondy [Hamish Bond, Murray's rowing partner], Peter [Taylor] and Storm [Uru]. I have lots of support, it's fantastic. It's good we all support each other outside of rowing. We're like a family."

His wife Jackie is encouraging, too. "She says, 'well, if you want to get yourself beaten up, go for it'."

Murray, who will walk out to the ring with the Foo Fighters blaring, says the showman side of boxing takes some getting used to. "I'm an athlete and I just get on with the job. I'm very privileged to have been asked to be involved, and if I can use my profile to help the Prostate Cancer Foundation, then it's a win-win."

Organisers of Fight For Life at Waitakere's Trust Stadium on Saturday night hope to raise more than $150,000 for prostate cancer.

Nat MP dares to win

She's no stranger to marathons and multisport events, and now Auckland Central MP Nikki Kaye says she's determined to complete the Coast to Coast in February, an endurance race not for the faint-hearted. "Well, if Bill English and Nick Smith can do it ..." she laughed. "Actually, they were great, but they did it as a team. I'm going to attempt it as an individual."

The legendary South Island traverse race combines a staggering 140km cycle, 36km run and 67km kayak. Kaye has taken part before, but was injured on the run. She says she's a sucker for punishment and this time plans to complete it in one day.

Training sessions are fitted around her busy parliamentary schedule - in the wee hours of the morning and late at night. "I've got no social life," she joked.

Kaye says Labour politician Trevor Mallard has challenged her to a bike race in April, but wouldn't contemplate the infamous endurance race. "Trevor is a competent cyclist but I don't think he's up to Coast to Coast. He has no stamina, no upper body strength," she teased.