By GREGOR MACTAGGARTmactaggartg@gladstoneobserver.dyndns.org
NEW Zealand rugby league legend Tawera Nikau is set to inspire Gladstone audiences part of the Anzac legends sportsman's dinner on Friday, February 24.
Nikau, who represented the Kiwis with distinction in 19 tests and won the NRL premiership with Melbourne, won the admiration of many for his courage after losing his first wife to suicide, and his bravery when his leg was amputated after a severe motorcycle accident in 2004.
He will be the special guest speaker at the dinner and is looking forward to his visit to Gladstone.
'I can't wait to head over there, the whole week will be great for renewing old friendships with the Aussie and Kiwi boys,' Nikau said. 'Representing New Zealand was great, there is definitely nothing better than representing your country.
'To also be involved in funddraising for charity is also something I am pleased to be part of.
'For all of us to be coming to a place like Gladstone is exciting, certainly from my perspective.'
Nikau is rated as one of his country's most inspirational public speakers due to his ability to relate his experiences to people of all walks of life.
'I enjoy the motivational speaking that I do, there is a purpose to what I talk about' he said.
'I have had some tough times lately, but all people have adversity in their lives at various stages.
'It is important people know that they are not alone and the test is how they overcome that adversity.
'And if people draw even one thing from what I talk about, that gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
'I have been lucky in a number of ways in my life and unlucky in others, but I am still here and a new dad as well (daughter Phoenix born four weeks ago), so there is plenty for me to be thankful for.'
On top of being the dinner's special guest speaker, Nikau will also fulfil the position as the Kiwis' team manager, a role he hopes won't give him too much trouble.
"You know what footy teams are like,'' he laughed.
'I don't think I am going to be the iron glove, hopefully I won't have to keep them in check.'
All jokes aside, Nikau is expecting an entertaining clash, adding even though the players may be that bit older, the pride of wearing their country's jumper would spur them on.
'I think the boys on both teams will be doing their best to win, because no-one likes losing,' he said.
Tickets for the sportsman's dinner at the Gladstone Leagues Club which also features a charity auction, are available at The Observer office.
Prices are $85 for a ticket, or group bookings of tables of 10 are available for $75 per person.