Storms aiming to gatecrash Wiki's party - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Storms aiming to gatecrash Wiki's party

By Melissa Woods 13/09/2008 09:58:05 AM Comments (0)

Melbourne prop Brett White says his side plans to crash Warrior Ruben Wiki's farewell party by sending the New Zealand side packing from the NRL finals.

The veteran forward Wiki, who has played 309 career games, will hang up his boots at season end, which the Storm hopes will be Sunday for the Warriors.

White said his side learnt a lot from their recent experience in Newcastle, when the Knights played out of their skins to secure a one-point win.

He said his side had discussed the emotional factor of the looming departure of Wiki, who had been instrumental in the Warrior's recent winning run of eight from 10 games.

"The last few games he's been playing like it's his last and no doubt he'll be playing to his best Sunday afternoon knowing that quite possibly it could be his last game," White said.

"We spoke about that and we know that when he's at his best he's a wonderful player and he's going to lift the players around him.

"Exactly the same thing happened in Newcastle, Danny Buderus, being a big part of Newcastle even though wasn't on the field he managed to lift that whole side to play the best they've played all year.

"We're expecting similar things from the Warriors, that Ruben will playing and leading from the front."

The Warriors have no fear about taking on the minor premiers, believing they are in better shape than a year ago despite finishing eighth this season as opposed to fourth.

In 2007 they had injuries to the likes of giant winger Manu Vatuvei and centre Jerome Ropati, both of whom are available for their must-win clash.

"Although we went into the finals on the back of wins last year, I felt our form was dipping a wee bit," coach Ivan Cleary told NZPA.

"We also lost a couple of key guys, although we've lost one guy this year as well," he added, referring to fullback Wade McKinnon's suspension on a charge of spitting at a linesman.

McKinnon's absence apart, Cleary has been able to name a full strength line-up.

Skipper Steve Price agreed that the Warriors were probably in better form heading into the finals than last year, when they went on to lose to Parramatta first up and were then eliminated by North Queensland.

"Everyone is running into good form both as individuals and collectively," Price said.

"In a way, we may be in better condition than last year, even though we finished higher up the table.

"Last year we had a few injuries and our momentum was stopped a little bit, whereas this year we've been able to build."

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