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Gallen and Bird confirmed for Fight for Life

Published: 10:57AM Thursday October 25, 2012 Source: ONE Sport

  • Paul Gallen (L) and Greg Bird (Source: Getty Images)
    Paul Gallen (L) and Greg Bird - Source: Getty Images

Australian league stars Paul Gallen and Greg Bird have been confirmed on the card for the 2012 edition of Fight for Life in December.

The current New South Wales and Kangaroos players join Newcastle Knights forward Willie Mason and Kiwis great Jarrod McCracken on the league team to take on their union counterparts in the charity boxing event at Auckland's Trusts Arena on December 15.

Recent All Blacks Rene Ranger and Hika Elliot have been named to step into the ring for the 15-man code along with retired All Blacks Carlos Spencer and Troy Flavell.

"The standard of the athletes prepared to put their bodies on the line continues to amaze me," Lonergan said. "The fact that we have guys who played in State of Origin this year and another two who starred in the Super 15 is setting new ground for the Fight for Life."

"This event has been seen as something of a rite of passage event for former players in the past but this card proves that guys who are still at their peak in their sports want to get in on the action and do their part for the event.

"People can be pretty cynical when it comes to how they view footballers. It's events like this though that helps break down stereotypes of athletes being all about themselves. In fact, it blows that tired argument right out of the water," said Lonergan.

The event will be in aid of The Prostate Cancer Foundation of New Zealand - the significant reason for the likes of Mason and McCracken in particular to get involved.

"Whenever I hear the word 'cancer' it sets me back for a second or two," Mason said. "My father Ian fought cancer before he died in 1997. And while it wasn't from prostate cancer I think for anyone who has suffered a loss like my family did, cancer is cancer."

"So, when I heard the charity was a cancer awareness one the decision to get inside those ropes was an easy one."

McCracken - who played 22 tests for the Kiwis during a career which took in stints at the Bulldogs, Eels and Tigers in the NRL - signed up after his 71 year old father Ken was diagnosed with prostate cancer.

"My motivation is simple," said McCracken. "If I can convince blokes to go and get checked and save their kids from having to watch their father go through what the old man is going through now, then every second inside the ring would have been worth it."

Dangerous Blues back Ranger is using the fight as an opportunity to get into peak condition as he looks to reclaim his All Blacks spot.

"My Super Rugby coaches always give me heaps about making sure I turn up to preseason in good condition," he said.

"So this way I figure that not only do I get to take on a new challenge in boxing, I will also keep my coach happy by turning up to preseason fit!

"Boxing training is so different to anything we actually do with rugby. It is high intensity for two minutes at a time. In rugby you are only every really going full noise for a matter of seconds so this will definitely help build up my base fitness. I also think that it will add something mentally. There is nowhere to hide in the boxing ring. You can't let your mates do the work for you. It is just you and your opponent."