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Warriors' Ah Van keen for Knights clash

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Warriors' Ah Van keen for Knights clash

Post by Stocky on Wed Apr 08, 2009 4:40 pm

Centre Patrick Ah Van will have some happy memories when he steps out for the New Zealand Warriors against NRL rivals Newcastle on Sunday.

Ah Van produced some late heroics in the corresponding fixture in Newcastle last May, calming slotting a penalty two minutes from fulltime to give the Warriors an 18-16 win.

"They're good memories, but I can't dwell on them," he said.

"I have to go back out and play for 80 minutes."

Still, Ah Van admitted that he hadn't been allowed to forget his successful angled shot from 30m out.

"Everyone reminds me about it," he said of the kick that ended a drought for the Warriors because it was their first away win of 2008 at their sixth attempt.

The previous month, Ah Van had also played a decisive role late in the Warriors' 26-20 success over the same opponents in Auckland, scoring a 95m try that effectively sealed the result.

Just 21, Ah Van already has 40 NRL appearances to his name, having made his debut against Manly in early 2006 as an 18-year-old.

Until this year, he had been used as a winger or a fullback in first grade, but Brent Tate's long-term knee injury meant he got a shot at his favoured centre spot against South Sydney last Sunday.

For Ah Van, the biggest buzz of the afternoon was lining up alongside club legend Stacey Jones for the first time.

"I looked up to him when I was younger and I came out a couple of times to watch him play," he said.

"To get to play with him finally is a big highlight in my career."

Tate's injury, which will sideline the Kangaroos and Queensland State of Origin representative for the rest of the year, gives Ah Van the chance to nail a permanent berth in the centres.

"They're pretty big shoes to fill," he said.

"I hope I can cement a spot, but with all the players and all the depth here, that's not going to be easy."

Ah Van did start at centre in two of the Warriors' trial matches this year, before playing on the wing for the Auckland Vulcans in first three rounds of the New South Wales Cup.

He was reasonably happy with his return to the NRL in the 16-22 loss to the Rabbitohs, but said he needed to work on his defence.

Meanwhile, coach Ivan Cleary rated giant winger Manu Vatuvei as only a marginal chance to take the field against the Knights after he missed the past two matches with a knee injury.

Vatuvei wasn't listed in the 17 when the squad was named yesterday, but was considered a possibility to make the trip across the Tasman.

Asked this morning to assess Vatuvei's prospects for this weekend, Cleary said it was "probably four or five" on a scale of 10.

It would be a case of seeing how the rest of the week panned out and "if it's touch and go, he won't be playing".

The Warriors are hopeful of having skipper Steve Price (throat), utility Lance Hohaia (knee) and second rower Ben Matulino (ankle) back for the home match against the Sydney Roosters next week.

http://wwos.ninemsn.com.au/article.aspx?id=799212
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Stocky

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