Se­nior Vik­ings like a good wine

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - By KRIS DANDO

An­ton Wereta and Greig Dean joined a hand­ful of play­ers who have reached a ma­jor mile­stone for Porirua Vik­ings pre­miers rugby league side this past sea­son – and hope they can keep go­ing for a while yet.

The pair played their 250th games for the As­cot Park-based club, join­ing the likes of Zac Walsh, Frank Rameka and Jay Bol­stad in the ex­clu­sive club.

Wereta, the premier half­back, said he was buzzing when he learned he’d reached the mark.

‘‘I was stoked to hear that. It was a pretty spe­cial mo­ment,’’ he said. ‘‘I started off as a ju­nior with Porirua City, so it was cool to be here as a se­nior player, too.’’

Dean, mean­while, said the 250th was ‘‘just another game’’, but he was grate­ful to be recog­nised with a New Zealand War­riors jersey, polo shirt and plaque.

He has played in sev­eral po­si­tions in the Vik­ings’ back­line since he and Wereta pitched up to the club in 2004, from the Kapiti Bears. He favours the free­dom of full­back.

‘‘I like hav­ing the space to run the ball – it’s what I’ve al­ways loved.’’

Wereta and Dean should hardly be con­sid­ered ‘‘se­nior’’ at 30 and 33, but are now con­sid­ered elder states­men in the Vik­ings.

‘‘There is re­spon­si­bil­ity, def­i­nitely,’’ Wereta said. ‘‘ We know how the young guys felt as new­bies and it’s up to us to set the ex­am­ple.

‘‘We of­fer guid­ance and if we go hard at train­ing, they will follow.’’

‘‘When I started, the se­nior guys were say­ing, ‘ Look after your in­juries, train smart’, and now I’m say­ing those things,’’ Dean said.

In 2005, Porirua – called North City at the time – beat great ri­vals Wainuiomata in the grand fi­nal and a golden era in Vik­ings rugby league be­gan.

The pin­na­cle was the 2008-10 pe­riod, with three con­sec­u­tive premier­ships, but los­ing by a drop goal in the dy­ing stages of the 2011 grand fi­nal to Te Aroha de­nied a record-break­ing four in a row.

Since then, it has been tough times for the pre­miers, but Dean and Wereta are hope­ful the fu­ture is bright. They have no plans to re­tire any time soon.

‘‘We have been go­ing through some re­build­ing, but we’re nearly there,’’ Wereta said. ‘‘Ev­ery­one knows what has to be done.’’

He said the likes of Cho­sen Rameka and Shel­don Akavi were among the next breed mak­ing their mark, and it bode well for a push for another premier­ship in 2015.

Asked to name their favourite mo­ments among the 250 games, Dean said his five tries in one match in 2008 was a high­light and Wereta nom­i­nated hoist­ing his young son on his shoul­ders after win­ning the 2010 grand fi­nal, in which he cap­tained the side.

Both play­ers have turned out for Wellington Or­cas and hope the door isn’t closed on rep­re­sen­ta­tive foot­ball.

Run­away: Greig Dean streaks away for a try in the 2011 grand fi­nal.

Big day: An­ton Wereta cel­e­brates win­ning the 2011 grand fi­nal.

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