Ayshford eager for first Anzac Day game
Warriors centre Blake Ayshford will play his first Anzac Day game this Monday against the Storm, but will do so in circumstances he never imagined when he was growing up.
After seven seasons with the Tigers and Sharks, Ayshford told NRL.com he can't wait to line up for the Warriors on such a special occasion, even though he will be singing a different national anthem to most of his teammates at AAMI Park.
"I haven't had the chance to play in one of these before and I am pretty excited for it," Ayshford said.
"From talking to a couple of the boys they said it's always a big crowd over there.
"Anzac Day is big for both countries… I was brought up in Australia and while I won't say I know too much about the history of Anzac Day, I know the basics and I know how proud Australia are of the Anzacs and I know how proud New Zealand are as well.
"They will sing the national anthems, and while I will be signing the Australian one most of my teammates will be singing the New Zealand one, but we are there for the one cause and I am just excited and can't wait."
While it doesn't have the history of the annual Roosters v Dragons Anzac Day meeting, this game has quickly developed into a valued tradition for the Kiwi club, with many Warriors players singling it out as a highlight of the regular season.
Coach Andrew McFadden said as a result of that, motivation was never an issue for these encounters.
"I know that these contests with Melbourne, particularly at AAMI Park, have always been ones that the players have really enjoyed," McFadden said.
"It's a great atmosphere and we get great [fan] representation there as well.
"It's an exciting time and a day that is important to remember as well. Overall it's a big occasion."
It will be the second time these two sides have met in just over a month, after the Storm won 21-14 in the Round 3 clash at Mt Smart Stadium.
For Ayshford it's a chance to extract some swift revenge over the fifth-placed side.
"I thought we should have got them when we played them earlier in year, we learnt a lot from that one and I thought we just didn't ice that game the way we should have," Ayshford said.
"Hopefully we are there at the end and do all the right stuff and come away with it.
"This club has been successful against Melbourne in the past, so hopefully we can keep that going.
"I think they always struggle with us, I don't really know what the reason is but we just have to play how we want to play and stick to our plan."
The Warriors and Storm have clashed six times on Anzac Day since 2009, with Melbourne winning three, the Warriors two and the 2009 match ending in a draw.