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'Can't wait': NZ Masters Games ambassador and former NZ cricketer Warren Lees is fizzing for next year's Games in Dunedin. PICTURE: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

By MARJORIE COOK

New Zealand and Otago cricket identity Warren Lees is fizzing to be back in Dunedin in February for the NZ Masters Games.

Lees, a former national and Otago cricket player and coach, is a Games ambassador and says he loved his first stint two years ago as an official hand-shaker, medal presenter and all-round chatterbox.

‘‘It was an absolute thrill,’’ he says.

‘‘It was 10 days of being absolutely hectic, going from one event to another, meeting people who were happy people, who were wanting to take part but not overly competitive.’’

About 5000 competitors are expected to descend on Dunedin for the 2022 Games, held every second year, alternating with Whanganui.

Lees will be sharing the ambassador roles with former Silver Fern netballer Jodi Brown, who coaches representative netball in Dunedin, and former professional rugby player Neil Brew, who teaches there.

Lees and wife Jude retired to live in Clyde nine years ago.

He says the 2022 event, will be ‘‘huge’’ for Dunedin — the city’s lost several events over  the past year due to Covid restrictions, including this year’s Dunedin Craft Beer and Food Festival, postponed till February, a scheduled Guns N’ Roses concert to have been held last Sunday and September’s All Blacks Test against the Springboks.

Lees says he’d be tempted to join in the Games action — last time he competed in cornhole.

‘‘You are going to say, ‘what is that?’

‘‘You throw these tiny little sacks into holes on a board.

“Last time, it was at Montecillo and there were 150 people just loving it and laughing.

‘‘It was a happy place to be.’’

Lees says he loves everything about the Masters Games, particularly talking — ‘‘I’m not a great listener … people don’t get much time to talk when I’m talking’’ — and intends to do as much as possible between 7am and 8pm.

‘‘It is just about the people, all about people, being happy, being able to communicate with each other.

‘‘I’ve never heard a cross word [at the Games],’’ he says.

● NZ Masters Games, February 5-13, Dunedin; earlybird entries ($70) close December 20.
To enter, or for more information, visit nzmg.com

ed@scene.co.nz