League: Fien hoping World Cup form can help club future

Nathan Fien has been told by the Warriors he can leave the club
Nathan Fien has been told by the Warriors he can leave the club
Halfback Nathan Fien is hoping his form in the rugby league World Cup will lead to him staying at the New Zealand Warriors beyond next year.

Fien, 29, comes off contract at the end of 2009 and, in the middle of this year, the club told him he could look at options elsewhere.

Speaking as he was taking in the World Cup final victory in Brisbane at the weekend, Fien said his settled family situation and a desire to continue representing New Zealand meant his preferred choice would be stay in Auckland, rather than head to the English Super League.

"I'd love to keep playing with the Kiwis," he said.

"It seems that players that do go overseas don't get many opportunities."

In New Zealand's 24-strong World Cup squad, Wigan utility Thomas Leuluai was the only Super League representative.

Fien was happy that, despite the uncertainty over his club future, he was able to hit form at the tail end of the National Rugby League season after being shifted from hooker to his favoured position of halfback.

A similar scenario occurred at the World Cup, where Fien started at dummy half, but was then moved to halfback for the two matches against England.

He proceeded to turn in two man-of-the-match performances, and in the final against Australia his kicking game was again put to good effect.

One kick led to a repeat set that brought the Kiwis' opening try via lock Jeremy Smith and other resulted in the late penalty try that effectively sealed the result.

"Towards the back end of the year with the Warriors, it was my most consistent football for a long time," he said.

"I'm just really enjoying playing with the boys -- the Kiwis and the Warriors. I guess as you get a little older you start to savour a few things a little bit more."

He said he had always been confident in his kicking game, but it hadn't been on view for most of the past three seasons because he had been operating at hooker.

Club legend Stacey Jones' work as kicking coach this year had also been a factor.

"He's worked on not just my kicking game, but all the kickers throughout the club," he said.

Like the rest of the Kiwis, Fien was taking time to get used to the tag of World Cup winner.

"We wanted to get better week-in week-out and it culminated with an 80-minute performance against Australia and we've come up trumps, so it doesn't get better than this," he said.

"We're the rugby league champions of the world. It's just unbelievable."

Fien will be engaged in a hotly contested battle for the halfback spot at the Warriors next season, with Jones among those in a congested field.

He said the club's prospects were looking good with Jones' decision to return to the NRL after a three-year absence, while the Warriors who were at the World Cup would have gained plenty from the experience.

"Having Stace there will be awesome for the club; he's an absolute legend of the Warriors," he said.

"But you also have all the young players who stood up here like Jerome (Ropati), Manu (Vatuvei) and Sammy Rapira. There's big things happening there."

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