It’s a bold statement and one that would see him achieve a rarity in the modern game of Rugby League. NZ Warriors forward and former Canberra stalwart Ruben Wiki has announced publically that he is keen to keep playing in the NRL until the ripe old age of 40. At 35 years of age, Wiki has confidently predicted 5 more years in the big time of NRL – something that hasn’t been seen since the days ofÂ the agelessÂ John ‘Chicka’ Ferguson who reportedly fudged his birth certificate to squeeze out a few more years in the game he loved.
Seemingly getting a new lease on life after his move across the Tasman from Canberra to Auckland – the experienced Kiwi forward has a new passion for the game and continues to enjoy the training and demanding weekly requirements NRL now places on players. It’s astounding to think that Ruben Wiki has been around for so long; he was actually playing with the Green Machine in their heyday along side the likes of Mal Meninga, Ricky Stuart and Brad Clyde at Canberra.
In reality, Wiki has battled harder against injuries than any foes more recently and his skills are regularly being pushed by younger more agile opponents. The biggest driver says Wiki, is the fact that his young Warriors team achieved so much in 2007 and he feels that the ultimate success is yet to come as his squad matures even more under the impressive coaching of Ivan Cleary.
Another driver for the likeable Wiki is his partner in crime, Steve Price. The aging Price is also in the twilight of his career, yet continues to pull off some of the best form of his Rugby League life – week in week out, setting the bar higher for his teammates. It’s a healthy competitive spirit between the two forwards and together the two experiencedÂ big men hold the key for the Warriors in 2008 – if they can remain on the field and guiding the younger stars around the park, the Warriors just might go 2 games better and take the NRL Premiership out this year.
For Wiki, the only concern must be his aging body. While training hard and continuing to keep his fitness at optimum levels – it’s the strains, breaks and aches that remains the only hurdle for the NZ star. If the NZ Warriors are wise and utilize Ruben Wiki in lower rotations during matches, there is a chance the front rower could still be around in a few years time – either that, or the Kiwi’s can try and ask the NRL to pass a rule to allow zimmer frames on the field.