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Wiki to come out of retirement for Nines

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/01/2017 Angelo Risso

When Ruben Wiki broached the subject of pulling the boots back on for the Auckland Nines, he got a decidedly mixed response from his family.

The Warriors legend's wife and son were non-committal about the idea, but his daughter's response was unequivocal.

"YOLO Dad," she said - you only live once.

The former Kiwis captain will lace up the boots in next month's Nines after being asked by coach Stephen Kearney to come out of retirement.

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 was the first Kiwi to play 300 NRL games, will need to receive clearance from the NRL before running out on to Eden Park.

But Kearney didn't anticipate any issues, saying his former Test teammate had remained in tip-top shape following his 2008 retirement.

He is yet to name the remainder of his 18-man Nines squad but is expected to pick stars such as Shaun Johnson and the returning Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

A host of young players are also likely to get a run out in the two-day competition, such as 22-year-old prop Toafofoa Sipley.

"Ruben has always prided himself in staying in fantastic condition and he's absolutely jumping out of his skin," Kearney said.

"We certainly didn't have to ask twice."

Wiki, who is of Samoan and Maori heritage, won a Premiership with Canberra in 1994 and the 2005 Tri-Nations 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 also made comebacks in the pre-season tournament.

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