16 mins ago
Villa's My Mate - Webcke
Australian prop Shane Webcke, who was on the end of the biggest hit of the National Rugby League season, met up with his tackler this week and says he's a "really good fellow".
Webcke, arguably regarded as the best frontrower in the game, admitted today that he was "filthy" after he was flattened by New Zealand Warrior Richard Villasanti in late August.
The Warriors won the match at Auckland's Ericsson Stadium as they started a late season surge that took them just short of a second consecutive grand final appearance.
The two players are now Australian test team-mates preparing to face the Kiwis.
Webcke said Villasanti, who will be making his test debut off the bench, had slotted in well during the build-up this week.
"He's a really good fellow actually," he said.
"It's nice to meet him because I didn't really know him personally until he smashed my lip open.
"There was nothing to get over, to be honest. It's just rugby league.
"When you step out on to the field, you're fair game for that type of thing. I guess I've been in the position where I've done it to other blokes. There's nothing personal."
Webcke said he was upset immediately after the tackle mainly because of injured pride.
"I was filthy at the time. Why wouldn't you be?
"But that happens. You get smashed up and your pride gets a bit damaged. There was no malice or anything in there."
Asked if he had seen replays of the incident, which was shown repeatedly on television on both sides of the Tasman, Webcke quipped: "About 45 million times."
Webcke expected the one-off test against New Zealand, the 100th between the two nations, to open with some heavy exchanges in the forwards.
"That's par for the course when you play the Warriors or New Zealand," he said.
"You know you're playing a big physical pack who will test you. Our job is to be the battering rams early on and we expect no different on Saturday."
In July, Webcke was a member of an Australian side that humbled New Zealand 48-6 in Sydney.
Despite that result and the fact that Kangaroos were heading for a tour of Britain and France after leaving Auckland, he said motivation against the Kiwis would be no problem.
"It's easy, you just put an Australian jersey on," he said.
"I certainly don't want to be part of a losing Australian side and I think everybody else feels the same way. We've got a great tradition where we don't lose a lot of matches."
The trans-Tasman ledger reads 73-25 in Australia's favour, with one match drawn.
The last Kiwi victory was in 1999, a 24-22 result at Ericsson Stadium.
Meanwhile, Australian coach Chris Anderson said Villasanti, 23, was a prospect for the Kangaroos' starting 13 in future, but his best position for now was on the bench.
"He has such strike power when he comes on," he said.
"We'll use him hopefully at the right times where he can give us impact."
For Villasanti ? who was able to represent New Zealand but opted for Australia because he has his heart set on State of Origin football ? it meant remembering his team role.
Anderson said he doesnt want the Canberra-born prop to "wage his personal battle" against his Warrior team-mates, 11 of whom are in the Kiwi squad.
"But always when you come up against blokes you're playing with all year, you get baited a fair bit.
"If he starts reacting to those baitings, then it's going to put him off his game, like go chasing blokes instead of doing what he should be doing for the team."