Rugby: Paddy Gower to captain former All Blacks in Pack the Park rugby match

Paddy Gower.
Paddy Gower. Photo credit: File

Newshub and Three fan favourite Paddy Gower will swap his microphone for a pair of sprigs, when he takes to the rugby field for a charity match in January.  

Gower will lead the Blair Vining XV on to Invercargill's Rugby Park on January 27 in the final instalment of the Pack the Park fundraisers.  

The match will be played as a mark of gratitude for the immense support from the local public for the late Blair Vining's dream of establishing the Southland Charity Hospital, which will open in 2024.  

"As a rangy lock or blindside, inspirational captain and relatively accurate goalkicker, I feel my rugby potential has been unfulfilled," joked Gower, star of the Three's Paddy Gower Has Issues.  

"I also want to bring attention to the desperate need to improve cancer care in regional New Zealand. Blair Vining is a hero to me. He stood up for his community and his country.   

"The charity hospital is a massive step in his legacy but there is more work to do. It is an honour to be a small part of this important work."

The Pack the Park concept was inspired by Southland rugby coach Vining's request for one final game with mates, after being diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer in 2018. He died in October 2019 at age 39.

The first game took place in October 2020 as a fundraiser for the hospital.

January's showpiece will feature a host of rugby starts, including former All Blacks captain Kieran Read, Mils Muliaina, Chris Masoe, John Afoa, Pita Alatini, and Kee Meeuws.

"I'm looking forward to the aftermatch," Gower added. "I am much more suited to aftermatches than actually playing."

Tickets for Pack the Park 2024 on January 27 are free but must be booked through Ticketek.