By George, it's a love match for the children
Rugby great George Gregan at Forrest Tennis Club for the charity day. Photo: Colleen Petch
One of Canberra's favourite sons, rugby great George Gregan, returned to his home town on Thursday to be flogged on the tennis court.
''I'm terrible,'' he said, of his tennis game. ''I slice my forehand. But I don't serve underarm, so I can at least get it over the net.''
The former Brumbies and Wallabies captain was the workhorse of the 2013 Maxim Invitational Charity Day, where he played games and even filled in as ball boy in return for pledges towards the construction of a playground at the new Women's and Children's Hospital in Canberra.
The George Gregan Foundation is bankrolling the new playground at a cost of between $500,000 and $600,000.
Maxim Chartered Accountants guaranteed $100,000 for the project from its annual charity day held at the Forrest Tennis Club.
Gregan, 39, and his wife, Erica, established the foundation in 2005 after their son Max was diagnosed with epilepsy in 2004.
Its aims are to build children's playgrounds in hospitals across Australia and train doctors who specialise in the treatment of epilepsy and other neurological conditions.
The foundation has since opened playgrounds at the Children's Hospital in Westmead, the Royal Children's Hospital in Brisbane and Sydney Children's Hospital at Randwick.
Gregan said he hoped the Canberra playground would be open by September or October.
''Probably the nicest thing and the humblest experience we get is the feedback from families who actually use the playground and experience it,'' he said. ''A lot of these families are there for long-term stays, for months at a time. To have a space to break out and enjoy and get out of the hospital is really important to them.''
Max, who turns 12 in May, is ''doing really, really well''. He's an all-round sports nut into basketball and, of course, rugby.
''We haven't pushed him into the game of rugby. Mind you, he's spent a fair amount of time watching it or going to training facilities, so it's in his blood in a lot of ways. A lot of his friends play rugby, which is what's good about the game, isn't it?'' Gregan said.
''He's playing wing at the moment. He's probably a bit faster and more nimble than his old man.''
The Gregans also have daughters Charlie, 10, and Jazz, 8. And they are busy with their business GG espresso, which has 15 cafes and two wine bars in Sydney. Expanding into Canberra is not out of the question. ''We never say never … if we found the appropriate site, we'd be here for sure,'' he said.