A HUDDERSFIELD boxing club has been helping a Super League star train for a ‘Battle of the Brawn’.
Hard-hitting Leeds Rhinos player Weller Hauraki has been preparing for a charity boxing match.
And in a bid to get his jabs and uppercuts up to scratch he has been training at Rawthorpe Amateur Boxing Club.
Weller is one of a host of sports stars fighting at Rhinos player Rob Burrow’s testimonial event at the Centenary Pavillion at Elland Road tomorrow.
The night is the latest of several charity events the diminutive scrum half has hosted to celebrate 10 years at the Rhinos.
Weller was set to go toe to toe with Huddersfield Giants forward Keith Mason but the prop had to drop out to have surgery.
He is now due to face three one-minute rounds against retired footballer Dean Windass.
His preparations for his ring debut against the former Bradford, Hull and Middlesbrough striker have seen him visit the Gasworks Street club three times a week to learn the basics and spar with Rawthorpe chief Mark Reynolds.
The second row forward said he was training at the Gas Club because Burrow and his father have links with the amateur club.
He said: “Rob asked me to fight for him as no one else would do it.
“Not many of the boys are fighters – I don’t class myself as a fighter but I put my hand up for Rob – he’s a good bloke and I know he’d do the same for me.
“It’s a good charity thing for Rob and it’s a challenge for me too.”
Weller, who has no boxing experience, said his few weeks of training had been going really well and he was feeling confident ahead of his bout with the retired footballer and Sky Sports pundit.
He said: “I’m feeling really good, my fitness is pretty good.
“I’ve been sparring with Mark and one of the other boys who’s fighting.
“It’s a bit scary. The fitness is heaps different, you think because you’re rugby fit you can just jump into the ring, throw a few punches and not get tired, but it’s a whole different category of fitness.
“The last couple of weeks have been pretty tough but Mark has said my boxing is picking up.
“I’m loving the fitness and the boxing training might come in handy one day.”
Mark said he had enjoyed training the New Zealander and was impressed with his progress.
He said: “I work with Rob’s dad on the Rugby League Players’ Association.
“We look after the players, so I’ve known Rob a few years.
“When he was getting his testimonial he asked if we’d help out and I was happy to do it.
“Weller’s been over, he’s never missed a training session and he’s as keen as mustard.
“He’s very good; my ribs are sore, my nose is sore, he’s done really well.”
The other fights are Jamie Thackray (Barrow) v Micky Learmonth (Warrington) and Zac Hardaker (Leeds) v Jordan Tansey (Crusaders).