Packer steps into Price, Wiki's place - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Packer steps into Price, Wiki's place

By Robert Lowe 22/05/2008 03:27:00 PM Comments (0)

For a teenage prop trying to get a foothold in the NRL, Russell Packer gives the impression of being pretty grounded.

There is no star-struck wonder in rubbing shoulders with the likes of veteran front-rowers Steve Price and Ruben Wiki at the New Zealand Warriors.

Or any continuing celebration over getting his first NRL try, a bullocking effort late in the 46-22 loss away to Penrith last weekend.

"It was a standard try, nothing too special," the 18-year-old said.

"It doesn't really count for much when you lose. It's good to get a first try, but in the context of the game it wasn't really important."

Price's hamstring injury, which has kept the captain out now for two months, opened the way for young Kiwi Packer to step up from the Junior Warriors.

He got the call after impressive performances leading the under-20 side in the National Youth Competition, where he was gaining an average of more than 180m a game.

He has had two successive NRL matches off the bench, starting with the home win over Canberra when he showed plenty of enthusiasm.

He has again been named on the bench for the match against the Sydney Roosters in Auckland on Sunday.

With Price and Wiki, who have 579 NRL appearances between them, Packer has plenty of experience to tap in to.

"Steve is passing on a lot of what he knows and Ruben - everyone knows Ruben, he's a legend," he said.

"They are great guys to have around the club, especially for a young front-rower coming through."

While Packer has plenty of respect for the two elder statesmen, it is not a case of a youngster being in awe of his idols.

"This is what I want to do," he said of professional league.

"If I'm star struck about it, I'll probably not perform as well as I can. Everyone here is on friendly terms. They don't look down on me."

For Packer, the immediate future is about making the most of the chances that come his way.

"You know what the NRL is like, it's the toughest competition in the world," he said.

"You might not always get the opportunity to play in it and you just have to make the most of it when you do."

Coach Ivan Cleary said the try Packer nabbed against the Panthers had shown his determination.

"That's a great sign for a young kid," Cleary said.

"That try was pure determination and he had another run in that set as well."

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