Desire to win Waerea-Hargreaves' driving force

DAVID LONG IN MANCHESTER
Last updated 05:00 27/11/2013
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves
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KIWIS ENFORCER: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

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He's known as an enforcer, a fiery, fast-talking forward who loves nothing more than to put his body on the line and send his rivals sprawling.

But Kiwis prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves believes he has plenty more to offer New Zealand's World Cup campaign than mere brawn.

The Roosters star was no stranger to the NRL's naughty boys' club this year after spending a total of six weeks on the sidelines with suspensions.

That's a testament to the uncompromising way he plays and, at the Rugby League World Cup, he has been a constant presence for the Kiwis in the middle of the park.

It is common to see words such as "hard man", "enforcer", or "firebrand" before his name in newspaper stories and it's something Waerea-Hargreaves has grown accustomed to.

But his real strength, he argues, is not his bulk or toughness but rather his unyielding desire to win.

And heading into Sunday's world cup final against the Australians at Old Trafford in Manchester, as much as the Kiwis forward hopes to send some Kangaroos players thudding into the turf, he would far sooner settle for a win.

"I've seen it [being called an enforcer] a few times and I've got used to it, but I just try to get out there and do my best for the team," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"If people see me as an enforcer or whatever, then that is what it is. "I like to think that I'm pretty passionate about the game and obviously I don't like to lose.

"If anyone wants to take on a challenge, whether it's an eating challenge, or a running race, even if I thought I might lose, I'd still give my all."

As Waerea-Hargreaves' followers on Instagram would testify, he has loved the past seven weeks being in the Kiwis camp. He revels in the team environment, but has also made the most of the chances to get out and explore the cities they've been based in.

"Being a part of a campaign like this is definitely one of the highlights of my career," he said "It's the best tour by far that I've been involved in. To have the amount of ability in this squad is incredible.

"You look around this squad and it's amazing. We all know about this opportunity we have and we don't want to take it for granted.

"So from day one we knuckled down, training has been building each week and we're ready to rock."

The team for the final at Old Trafford in Manchester will be announced on Friday morning. Players such as Waerea-Hargreaves, won't be sweating on the team naming. Others like Josh Hoffman, Alex Glenn and Kevin Locke are in for an anxious time, but some, such as Krisnan Inu and Greg Eastwood, may have come to the realisation that their playing activity at this tournament is probably already over.

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Despite everyone's individual feelings, Waerea-Hargreaves says it's vital everyone puts the team first.

"First of all, we say that you never know what's going to happen the following week with injuries or something like that, so you've got to train and prepare like you're playing," he said.

"It is a healthy squad, there's so much depth here and it's a positive thing; all of our 23 players on board are training hard and competing for a spot."

Inu has had the least amount of game time on this trip, with his only appearance being in the pool game against France, with Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney preferring Bryson Goodwin and Dean Whare in the centres.

While Inu would be naturally frustrated, Waerea-Hargreaves says he's keeping his spirits up.

"Krisnan is a pretty positive person as it is, so it's not hard for him to still be upbeat about things," he said.

"You never know what's going to happen with Bryson or Dean, so Krisnan needs to prepare like he's playing each week and if anything happens he's ready to go."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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