Ruben Wiki Photo: Getty Images
In an extraordinary move, rugby league legend Ruben Wiki will captain a Warriors side laced with experience for the NRL Auckland Nines at Eden Park on February 4 and 5.
“Having selected him to make his comeback it was natural to make him captain,” said Stephen Kearney.
“He’s a leader whatever he does and has so much mana. I can’t wait to see him running out with the lads next week and I’m sure everyone else feels the same.”
Wiki, who will be 44 by the start of the tournament, played 87 games for the Warriors between 2005 and 2008 after a long stint at Canberra.
He currently serves as the NRL side's strength and conditioning coach.
"It's been banter for the past three years, all my mates saying I should play Nines, and then Stephen asked and the dream became reality," Wiki said.
"Some of these guys are half my age so I think it's pretty exciting for myself to be running around with these young bulls."
Wiki, who is of Samoan and Maori heritage, won a premiership with Canberra in 1994 and the 2005 Tri-Nations with the Kiwis in England.
Sipley, who grew up watching "The Kava King" strut his stuff for club and country, said he couldn't wait to play alongside him.
He hoped he could get a decent run in the Nines and use the event as a springboard for NRL selection in March.
"He's a legend around the club and just the way he carries himself, he's kind of a role model to us young boys," Sipley said.
Other stalwarts including Brad Fittler, Steve Menzies and Braith Anasta have all made comebacks in the pre-season tournament in previous years.
Warriors Nines Squad
1 Ryan Hoffman
2 Junior Pauga*
3 Matt Allwood
4 Blake Ayshford
5 Ata Hingano
6 Solomone Kata
7 Shaun Johnson
8 Ruben Wiki (c)*
9 Mason Lino*
10 Bunty Afoa*
11 James Gavet
12 Tuimoala Lolohea
13 Jazz Tevaga*
14 Ofahiki Ogden*
15 Lewis Soosemea*
16 Toafofoa Sipley*
17 Isaiah Papalii*
18 James Bell*
Ruben Wiki's Massive Hit