Ruben Wiki Nz WarriorsNRL journeyman Ruben Wiki who turned 37 just last week, has been signed to fill the vacancy created by Tony Kemp’s appointment late last year to the new role of football manager. The continued involvement of Wiki is a beacon of hope for the NZ Warriors, who without doubt remain the biggest sleeping giant in the NRL.

The Warriors have boasted such an array of talent over the past decade, but have yet to fully capitalise on their stature as a single town, single country team. With the continued involvement of Wiki, who knows what it takes to go all the way – it can only help the Warriors overcome the hurdles they face.

Surely once the Warriors crack it for one NRL Premiership, they stand to perform a similar feat to that of the Melbourne Storm – who have been the best performing NRL team over the past decade.

“It’s hugely exciting for us and a tremendous boost for the game that a man of Ruben’s standing is now involved in such a key role,” he said.

“He has done so much as one of rugby league’s greats for both his country and the clubs he has played for. Now he’s in a position to make a positive contribution to the game’s future.

“It’s pleasing for us that our new-look football department is now completed and we can get on with the task we have to rebuild rugby league at all levels in this country.

“In his role Ruben, working with Tony, will be responsible for leading our national high performance strategy which aims to ensure sustained excellence at international level as well as promoting, fostering and supporting rugby league throughout the community in order to develop the game and increase participation.

“As high performance manager, Ruben will also have a vital role in the Kiwis’ management team.”

Wiki ended his international playing days in 2006 after a world record 55 Tests including 18 as Kiwi captain. He finished his playing career at the end of the 2008 season after a total of 312 NRL appearances for the Canberra Raiders and the Warriors, easily the most in the competition by a New Zealander.

After working as a trainer for the Kiwis in 2008, including their successful Rugby League World Cup campaign, he pursued a range of other projects last year.
“It was good for me to have a break away from the game last year but I’m right back into it and it feels really good,” he said.

“I’ve been really excited working with the boys at the Warriors and now it’s a real privilege to be able to work with the NZRL and do all I can to help our great game at all levels.

“I loved playing the game and I have always really enjoyed working in the community. That’s a big part of it, trying to give something back to people and helping them to achieve things they didn’t think were possible.”

Kemp said Wiki’s appointment rounded out a football department which could now set about the task of delivering on the NZRL’s strategy.

“Ruben has incredible mana throughout the community and he also has amazing enthusiasm and passion to bring out the best in people in every walk of life,” he said.

“He’s going to be invaluable for us as he set about reviving the game at grass roots level and he’ll also be able to make a great contribution to our elite teams, especially the Kiwis, as he showed during the World Cup.”

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney echoed Kemp’s views on the 1994-2006 Kiwi great.

“I was very fortunate to play most of my Test career alongside Ruben and he was a wonderful player and an inspirational captain. He’s held in the highest regard by players he played with and those he played against. Everyone respects him,” he said.

“That came across in his time as part of our management team in 2008, especially at the World Cup where he had a tremendous influence on the players.”
Doyle said Wiki would start in his new job early next month.

By ricky

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