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Kirk: Hard work, big results

By By league reporter John Whiting

Published: 9:21AM Wednesday September 24, 2008 Source: ONE Sport

AUDIO: Listen to's interview with Aidan Kirk (2:30)

It takes a keen eye to find emerging talent but Warriors coach Ivan Cleary has unearthed a gem in winger Aidan Kirk.

Filling in at fullback for the injured Wade McKinnon in round one this season, Kirk was almost anonymous in the game.

As expected, he was dropped and replaced by utility Lance Hohaia.

At that point it would've been so easy for Cleary to simply let him play out the rest of the year for the Auckland Vulcans.

But he persevered, giving Kirk his second shot with Manu Vatuvei out with a fractured leg.

Since then he's been getting better and better every week - scoring the game-winning intercept try against the Roosters last Friday night.

While the Warriors were already well ahead on the scoreboard at the time, Kirk's 80 metre grab and dash put the game beyond doubt.

Cheered on by a capacity crowd at Mt Smart Stadium, it was a proud moment which capped a fine season for the 22-year-old.

"Mate, it was pretty special. Once I had it and knew I was going to make the try line I was just enjoying the atmosphere," Kirk told

"That was the best crowd I've ever played in front of."

Kirk freely admits that in his debut game he was in over his head after being thrust into the starting custodian role.

He still has nerves before every game but experience has allowed him to be able to control those feelings and channel them in a good way.

"Probably I was overawed by the situation the first time around and second time around I have learnt from it.

"I was definitely nervous on the weekend [against the Roosters] but I know how to control it and still be confident."

Signed for 2009 with an option for 2010, Warriors fans can expect to see a lot more of Kirk next season.

But let's not jump the gun - the Warriors are still alive in 2008 and face up to the Sea Eagles in Saturday night's grand final qualifier.

It's been a fairytale run for the New Zealand side - 10 wins from the last 12 games and just one win away from the big one.

Kirk said a marked improvement to the defence has been the key behind their rapid rise.

"We've got a record of 10 from 12 now and I think from that record it's been the defence in the past 12 weeks that's really set the standard.

"Being a winger I don't notice it all that much but I think our forwards are really bashing their forwards and that's their job."

Defence will again be vital for the Warriors this weekend having already lost to Manly twice during the regular season this year.

But Kirk knows what's at stake and the Warriors have a steely resolve to write a happy ending for their season 2008 story.

"Huge challenge, we've lost twice to them this year and to me they're the form team.

"It's a one off game - the loser goes on and the winner goes home. There's a lot to play for and it's gonna be a huge game."

Are you a huge Warriors fan? As the nation looks forward to the biggest Warriors match since 2003 will be bringing you highlights text commentary of all the action from the Sydney Football Stadium on Saturday night from 9:45pm.