Wulf leaves run late for Marist's big day

Yahoo!Xtra Sport / Neil Reid
Yahoo Sport

All Black flyer Rudi Wulf almost missed kick-off in the biggest day in the history of North Harbour's Marist club.

Wulf was one of three All Blacks to line-up for the club, celebrating their 20th year in existence, in their 30-15 win over rival club North Shore on Saturday afternoon.

But he almost missed kick-off, making a dramatic arrival shortly before the start of the game and being forced to run through the impressive 3000-strong crowd to get changed and make the field alongside fellow All Blacks Tony Woodcock and Anthony Boric.

"I kind of got the wrong field," Wulf told Yahoo!Xtra.

"I thought we were playing back at home, at Albany. So I rushed over there, then found out we were playing at North Shore. I had to quickly make my way over here.

"I turned up here, saw them warming up and tried to get changed as quickly as I could."

When asked if his planning would be better ahead of the upcoming Tri-nations matches, he quipped: " Yeah I reckon. I would get in trouble if I did that next weekend."

Wulf impressed alongside his All Black team-mates in halting North Shore's winning streak in the North Harbour club competition.

All three also lasted the entire 80 minutes of the game.

He said the past couple of weeks had been a blur for him, realising his school-boy dream of becoming an All Black.

It is an achievement which is all the more remarkable considering he broke his neck in a freak diving accident while in camp with the New Zealand Under-21 team in 2005.

He credits the support that he got from the Marist club for being able to continue his rugby dream since those dark times.

And considering that, he said it was important he repaid the support that was given to him when his rugby dream seemed to have vanished.

"It is good to catch up with the boys," Wulf said.

"Training on Thursday night was really good, it brought back some memories including when I used to play alongside some of them back at school.

"I really enjoyed it out there.

"It was pretty special for the club and us as well. Last weekend we played together in the black jersey and then now had the chance to come back and play for our club together.

"This is a day to remember."

Marist North Harbour coach James Iversen said having Wulf back into the club fold was a great moment both for New Zealand's latest All Black and the club as a whole.

He said the club wished Wulf "all the best" for the rest of the 2008 international season, as it did Marist's three other All Blacks.

"He is an outstanding young man," Iversen said.

"I have been fortunate where I was involved at North Harbour for about 12 years in a rugby development, player development position. So I have had quite a bit to do with him as a youth, selecting him as a young player and being involved in his development.

"He epitomises what we want out of our young rugby players. He understands the importance of what people have done to assist him and if there is any opportunity to do something for them, he is open to do that.

"His just rewards have been achieved through a lot of hard work. It was a phenomenal injury.

"He didn't just make it into the All Blacks because of a shortage of wings. He made it because his work ethic is huge, the amount of work he does away from the ball is impressive."