By ALICE COWDREY - The Nelson Mail
Rugby players don't usually hang out in orchestra pits, and although they weren't clutching instruments, the Crusaders were all singing the same tune in Nelson this morning.
They were applying a thick coat of grey paint to the Theatre Royal's orchestra pit walls and agreed it was an ideal way to give something back to the Nelson community.
The team arrived in Nelson on Monday, and have been preparing for their last pre-season game, against the Blues in Motueka tomorrow.
Before a day of training, however, the boys were up bright and early to cover the theatre's concrete walls as part of their "big give" programme of volunteering.
Team captain Richie McCaw said it was a good way to thank the team's supporters.
The team had also managed to fit in some relaxation while in Nelson, including a session of sailing yesterday, he said.
Assistant coach Mark Hammett said it was great that the team could help out with the restoration of such a significant building.
Theatre Royal project manager Andy Ferguson appreciated the help. "It's really timely because we are nearly finished the back part of the building and need help."
The paint was donated by Resene Nelson and is recycled paint dropped off by people in the community which has been mixed together.
Motueka is bracing itself for an influx of thousands for tomorrow's game. Organiser George Sturgeon is expecting up to 12,000 people for the clash and said excitement was at fever-pitch.
"Walking around the town there are definitely a lot of people talking about the game, I reckon it will be chocker come tomorrow night and the pitch is looking great."
Jackie Taylor, from promotions group Our Town Motueka, said the game was a big occasion for the town with significant indirect benefits.
Tickets for the game were selling fast but there were still some uncovered seats available, Tasman Rugby marketing manager Butch Bradley said. The Crusaders' Horsemen will feature. Gates open at 3pm, with the kick-off at 5.30pm at Sports Park Motueka.
People can also check the Crusaders' handiwork during an open day at the Theatre Royal on February 13 between 10am and 2pm.