Storm skipper to celebrate unique double record.
Melbourne Storm captain Stephen Kearney will set two unique records this week when he joins an elite band of players that have reached 250 first-grade matches.
As well as lining up for his 250th match against the Knights this Saturday, Kearney will become the first New Zealander to reach the premiership milestone - the former Kiwi skipper overtook Daryl Halligan last year as the longest serving New Zealander in the Australian premiership.
Kearney - the most experienced player on the Storm roster - sees no better way to celebrate this rare milestone than by recording the club�s first ever win in Newcastle.
�The best way to savour a milestone is with your teammates after a win, so if we can go up there and play to our ability, I�ll be pleased with that,� said Kearney, who has played 124 matches for Melbourne.
�It�s a bit more special I suppose seeing as I�m the first New Zealander to reach 250 games and I�m definitely very proud to be the one doing that.
�When I started out it was a week-by-week proposition, I was just happy to be playing first-grade. Now 12 seasons later I�m still playing and still enjoying it so I�m certainly very pleased with the record.�
The Storm second-rower has rarely endured a form slump in a career spanning more than a decade, three NRL clubs and 45 Tests for New Zealand. Off contract at the end of the year, Kearney plans to make his future intentions clear in the coming weeks: �With regards to my playing future, I�ll probably know what I�ll be doing in the next couple of weeks or so, I�ll have made a decision in that time.�
Since joining the Storm in 1999 from the then Auckland Warriors � the 31-year-old made his first-grade debut with Wests back in 1992� Kearney has carved out a highly decorated career for both club and country.
As the youngest ever rugby league player to be named captain of his country (aged 21 in 1993) Kearney is just one international game away from becoming the most capped New Zealand Test player in history.
Kearney�s mind will be on other matters come Saturday night as Melbourne shoots for its second away win of the season.
When it comes to the Storm taking on the Knights in Newcastle the history books are stacked against the visitors.
In six previous attempts Melbourne has never won at EnergyAustralia Stadium and despite the club�s ranking as the top attacking team in the NRL (averaging over 28 points per game) the Storm has conceded an average of 37 points against the Knights when playing in Newcastle.
�If our defence is in order I�m sure we�ve got enough points in us to trouble the Knights, but it has to be up to scratch,� Kearney said of the Storm�s defence, which is the fifth best in the competition.
�The way they have adjusted their playing style without Andrew Johns has been excellent and they have plenty of confidence out of some very good victories.
�Newcastle is a tough place to go and play football at the best of times, the crowd makes it very intimidating for a start. We have a bit of history with Newcastle in that we have had a few players that have come from there over the years and the Knights always seem to fire up against us.
�We�ll certainly have our work cut out for us but I�m confident if we can go up there and do the things we do well, we�ll give them a scare.�
STORM TRAINING THIS WEEK: Friday (today) � 10am Olympic Park
For further information contact
James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]