Kearns returns favour and backs Gregan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kearns returns favour and backs Gregan

By Laine Clark 19/12/2005 07:25:01 PM Comments (0)

After George Gregan lent a helping hand in his time of need, Wallaby great Phil Kearns returned the favour on Monday.

Ex-Australian captain Kearns on Monday backed Gregan's retention until the 2007 World Cup before revealing the full extent of the current Wallaby leader's help following a tragic family accident.

Gregan on Monday remained tight-lipped on his future after a disastrous European tour which cost Wallaby coach Eddie Jones his job.

Standing alongside Kearns and ex-Australian forward Richard Harry on the Gold Coast, Gregan only answered questions regarding his weekend fundraising work which helped pump $2.4 million into children's charities.

Gregan's GG Foundation hosted a Gold Coast ball on Saturday night which raised money for a children's playground at Brisbane's Royal Children's Hospital.

When the European tour was mentioned, Gregan interjected: "Don't worry about the tour.

"This is a chance to see some sun, a bit of surf and to spend it with family is good.

"I'm just going to take December off and look forward to the new year."

But Kearns said he would be "surprised" if Gregan retired before the World Cup and believed the halfback had been unfairly singled out.

"I would be surprised by that. The hardest thing for a halfback to do is play behind a forward pack that has been disappointing," Kearns said.

"If you had George playing behind the England pack which was absolutely dominant we would probably be talking about how he is the best halfback in the world and tearing sides apart.

"George has been unfairly treated and at the same time he doesn't play the media game and that is a decision that the press crucify him for."

On Gregan retaining the captaincy for the World Cup, Kearns said: "I'm sure all the players would love to see him as captain at the World Cup but if that's not the case they will move on and do the best they can.

"But certainly to have a man with his experience leading them into the World Cup would be a positive."

Kearns then detailed how Gregan's family played a major role as the ex-Wallaby hooker held a bed-side vigil for his daughter Andie after she was run over on the family driveway in October.

He said Gregan cooked meals and shared baby-sitting duties with friends - including Harry - for Kearns' other three children during their month-long ordeal.

The close relationship forged during the ordeal was on display on Monday as the Kearns, Gregan and Harry families spent the last day of a holiday together at a Gold Coast theme park.

"We had 13 kids stay at the Gregan's place at one stage," Harry said of Gregan's support.

"George shows his character in a number of different ways.

"He has had a tough year but he's very pragmatic about it and wants to get on with it.

"George is the sort of bloke who is happy to stand up and take the bullets for his team.

"You do feel for him. But he is big enough to look after himself and that's the way he likes to do it."

Asked if Gregan would retire, Harry said: "I still think he has a tremendous amount to offer Australian rugby.

"When he chooses to move on he will leave a void that will be difficult to fill.

"He is a Martin Johnson or a Sean Fitzpatrick who binds a team together."

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