Thrillseeking Vodafone Warriors head coach Matthew Elliott is taken for a spin by 'Mad Mike' Whiddett in his RX 7 drift car at Red Bull's gate crash sponsorship announcement at Mount Smart Stadium on Monday. Photo: Red Bull.


Red Bull never does anything by halves and it certainly didnt hold back today.


The global giants dare-devil, full-on approach was graphically illustrated as it made a spectacular entrance as the Vodafone Warriors newest sponsor at Mount Smart Stadium this morning.


Red Bull had hatched a stunt to gate crash a Vodafone Warriors training session, pulling all the pieces together in just a few days without any of the clubs players or most staff having any idea about what would unfold.


The event was all about welcoming the Vodafone Warriors to Red Bulls world and welcoming Red Bull to the Vodafone Warriors world, an occasion created for the club, management and staff only (Red Bull having signed a three-year sponsorship deal).



While the players and staff were out on the field oblivious to what was in store, Red Bull staff, who had been on site practically since first light, continued working discreetly to set up their stunt.


Eventually the time came. With the Red Bull team in countdown mode, head coach Matthew Elliott one of the few in the know provided warning he would call a halt to training in a few minutes. All the players were brought together for what they imagined would be a huddle and debrief.


Only, as they gathered, their attention was diverted by a voice booming from speakers at the northern end of the ground entreating them to look at a big screen. A video rolled providing a flavour of New Zealands adventure world in the South Island and Red Bulls association with it.



Not only the players and football were watching by now, so too was a gathered audience including club owner Eric Watson, management, office staff and some other visitors who were about to be stunned.


It came via the piercing sound of a klaxon from the West Stand the cue for Red Bulls extreme world to come to life.


One surprise package followed another. Australian FMX rider Josh Sheehan came bouncing down one flight of steps before wheel-standing his way down to the northern end of the ground. Another blast and next down another set of steps was downhill mountain bike rider Brook Macdonald followed by enduro rider Chris Birch flying down some more steps, BMX rider Jaden Leeming via the northern embankment and FMX rider Nick Franklin finishing with an endo into position. Still there was more to come as Mad Mike Whiddett came roaring out of the East Stands concourse and put on a memorable rubber-burning exhibition in his Red Bull-branded RX 7 drift car.


Just as the captivated crowd was applauding what theyd seen, a Hummer rolled into view, towing a trailer with a giant block of ice filled with cans of Red Bull. On board playing DJ was former Vodafone Warriors captain Steve Price.


There was only one way to release the cans Vodafone Warriors captain Simon Mannering was handed a sledgehammer to do the job.



After chief executive Wayne Scurrah had welcomed Red Bull on board as the official energy drink of the Vodafone Warriors and the players had met the extreme athletes, it was time for a taste of rugby league for the guests.


Each was tasked with taking the ball straight up to two waiting Vodafone Warriors players holding hit shields. It didnt work out at all well for Bulldog Macdonald who went flying backwards through the air much to the amusement of those watching especially the NRL footballers while Whiddett, wearing his full driving suit overalls, took the low route, diving through the reception committees legs to avoid damage.


The Red Bull athletes and the Vodafone Warriors lapped up the experience with Elliott landing the biggest thrill of the lot when Whiddett took him for a spin in his drift car. Elliott was still buzzing about it hours later. Little wonder.


Cameras rolled throughout the operation with a video produced by Red Bull set to be put up on www.warriors.co.nz later this week. It will be well worth watching.





If this is what Red Bull can create for a sponsorship launch in just a few days, imagine what activity it might provide as game day sponsor, at the moment set to be the first match of the year at Mount Smart Stadium on April 1 when the Vodafone Warriors host North Queensland. Mark it down in your diary and buy your tickets now.