IF anyone understands just how dangerous the Eels promise to be this Sunday, it’s Melbourne back-rower Wairangi Koopu.<br><br>The 29-year-old Kiwi was a member Daniel Anderson’s 2002 Warriors side that powered their way to the Grand Final with a combination of brute force and ad-lib attacking brilliance.<br><br>And although the wheels may have fallen off the Warriors’ juggernaut when it mattered most, Koopu admitted there were some startling similarities between his former club and Anderson’s current crop at Parramatta.<br><br>“It’s something I’ve definitely noticed,” he told NRL.com today. “Obviously they have a bit of the Polynesian influence there too with guys like Fui (Moimoi) and Krisnan Inu but there is also a lot of that free-running play that is old-school Warriors.<br><br>“Daniel is letting the boys unleash their natural ability.<br><br>“Obviously it’s not just about that – they work very hard out there as well – but they throw the ball around a lot – and it makes them very dangerous.”<br><br>Koopu has been the quiet achiever of Melbourne’s late charge into the finals and even as the biggest game of the year approaches he admits he doesn’t know what the future holds beyond Sunday night.<br><br>Off contract at the end of the year, the former Kiwi Test star has been squeezed out in 2010 because of salary cap pressures and retirement remains a very real option.<br><br>“I don’t think I’ll find another NRL club to go to now – I’ve left it pretty late,” he said.<br><br>“I’m not too sure about England either. I’ve discovered this year that uprooting a young family is tougher than I thought.<br><br>“There has been a little bit of interest from over there and I feel like I have more to offer but I have to weigh up if it’s worth it financially.<br><br>“If I was only earning the same that I could by working it wouldn’t be worth the effort of moving over.<br><br>“But there are other options.<br><br>“I’d like to pick up a media role somewhere so I’ve been in talks with Maori TV in New Zealand about resuming some stuff with them next year and maybe increasing my workload with them to something fulltime.<br><br>“It’s just a bit nerve-racking that I’ve got nothing permanent lined up just yet.”<br><br>And whether Koopu has already played his final game in the NRL remains to be seen.<br><br>Named on a five-man interchange bench for Sunday’s Grand Final, he admits that if anyone was likely to miss out it’s him after he was the odd man out in last week’s thrashing of Brisbane.<br><br>But, given that 12 months ago his rugby league career was over, just being part of Grand Final week again – seven years after his first – has capped a remarkable return.<br><br>“My time at the Warriors had run its course and I had actually started training with some NPC (rugby union) sides in New Zealand,” he said.<br><br>“I was ready for a change and I thought rugby union would provide a challenge.<br><br>“But the Super 14 sides wouldn’t let me play without a season of NPC and that wasn’t financially feasible for me.<br><br>“Luckily Melbourne had expressed some interest a bit earlier and when they found out that rugby wasn’t an option after all they were happy to take me on.<br><br>“To be here now in Grand Final week is amazing.<br><br>“I’m obviously in the same boat as last week where I have to wait and see if I play or not but just to be part of the build-up and attend another Grand Final breakfast (on Thursday) – I’ll leave here with fond memories.”<br><br>Koopu said the lure of finals football had proved decisive in his decision to link with the Storm this season after 10 seasons at the Warriors.<br><br>“That was one of the deciding things that influenced my decision,” he said. “I spoke to some of the boys and they were very confident of having a good season and even challenging for another premiership.<br><br>“But after being at the Warriors for so long it’s also been good to experience a different club and how it works.”<br><br>As for Daniel Anderson and his Eels?<br><br>“I’m looking forward to picking his brain,” Koopu said. “I haven’t actually spoken to Daniel since he arrived back in Australia (after three years in England) but I’ll make sure we catch up for a chat at the Grand Final breakfast!”
You have skipped the navigation, tab for page content
National Rugby League respects and honours the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.