Belcher gives Kiwi forwards wide berth

Gary Belcher will try to stay away from the big Kiwi forwards at next month?s Anzac Legends clash on February 25.
Gary Belcher will try to stay away from the big Kiwi forwards at next month?s Anzac Legends clash on February 25.


FORMER Australian fullback Gary Belcher has a game plan he hopes will keep him out of the way from giant Kiwi forwards at next month's Anzac Legends rugby league clash between Australia and New Zealand at Marley Brown Oval.

"I think I'll just stay out wide and that way I'll last the distance,'' Belcher said yesterday.

He wasn't even concerned that such a tactic would result in accusations of avoiding the heavy traffic, adding 'that'd be nice' if all he had to do was stay out wide and score tries.

Contrary to his casual approach to the encounter, the former Brisbane Broncos assistant-coach is confident of playing the entire match if needed and is likely to have an edge in fitness over many of his contemporaries.

Renowned for his brilliant attacking play and safe defence during a memorable career with Brisbane Souths, Canberra, Queensland and Australia, Belcher said the February 25 clash was likely to bring out the players' competitive streak.

'While a lot of blokes try to play it down, there is a competitive side to it all,' Belcher said.

'Eric Grothe is probably the only guy I've played with (in Legends games) who's been able to just roll with it and not get serious.

'There'll be a competitive edge because that's the way everyone is and that's what made them the players they were.

'No-one will be going flat out, hitting as hard as they can or sprinting flat out, but we'll be trying to win.'

Belcher, who played 15 Tests for Australia between 1988-93, said the match may mean more to the Kiwis given that historically the ledger is balanced against them in Trans-Tasman clashes. However, he said it may be up to the Aussies to avenge last year's Tri-Nations series final loss to the Kiwis.

'If we win we'll send (the Australian team) the video,' Belcher joked.

Belcher, who debuted off the bench against Great Britain in 1988, made his starting side debut for Australia in the 1989 series.

Although Australia won 3-0, Belcher said the Kiwis had been 'ferocious' opponents, their aggressive style highlighted by the antics of lock forward Brendan Tuuta who was dubbed 'The Baby-faced Assassin' for his role in the series.

Despite such memories, Belcher was sure the upcoming match would be played in the right spirit and hoped it would be good entertainment for the Gladstone crowd.

Tickets for the Legends clash are selling fast and can be purchased from The Observer by phoning 4970 3030 or visiting our Goondoon Street office.