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Melbourne is looking to consolidate a top eight position on the NRL ladder and Storm second-rower Stephen Kearney believes this weekend?s clash with Wests Tigers will defy both team?s current standings on the table.
Kearney will make his 213th first grade appearance - one more than the injured Robbie Kearns - when he runs on to Leichhardt Oval this Saturday and is adamant the Storm has more to play for with the chance to cement a place in the top eight on offer.
?The Tigers haven?t got a great deal to play for in terms of the standings on the table or making the eight, but like any football side it?s pride they?re playing for,? explained Kearney.
But the 30-year-old - who has captained New Zealand twice in 39 Tests - says the Storm won?t be taking any notice of where the Tigers are placed on the ladder.
?They (Wests) are a tough side, it doesn?t matter their standing on the table, it?s not indicative of the talent they?ve got in the team,? Kearney said.
?We have got to go up there (Leichhardt Oval) with a similar attitude to the one we had last weekend, with a big focus on our defence and just try and make it a really hard day for them.
?If we can do that then they will start thinking about the end of the season long before the eighty minute whistle has blown.?
Kearney made his first grade debut with Western Suburbs in 1992 and then went on to play with the New Zealand Warriors from 1995 to 1998, before joining the Storm in 1999.
Kearney continues to relish the role as an older statesman within the club and has been at his unstoppable best over the past month - he is considered to be one of the prime movers behind Melbourne?s late season resurgence.
Yet he typically deflects any suggestion he?s been one of the Storm?s most consistent performers throughout a tough year.
?I know what my role is in the side and if I can potentially get to that every time I play then it?s good for the team,? Kearney said.
?Our back three, or ?black three? in Junior Langi, Fifita Moala and Marcus (Bai) are going really well at the moment and the centres Aaron Moule and Steve Bell are also doing extremely well.
?I don?t feel like the most senior bloke here and there?s no doubt that I?ve been around for a while but I?m enjoying my football and enjoying the company of the group so that keeps you pretty young.?
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James Avery: Phone (03) 9421 3222 Mobile: 0411 623 024 [email protected]