Four major finals, four major defeats – Salford star Inu hoping Wembley is fifth time lucky

When Krisnan Inu steps on to the hallowed Wembley turf this Saturday it will be the fifth major final of an incredible career.

From Parramatta to New Zealand, France, England, redundancy and Old Trafford, the Rugby League rollercoaster has provided more than just a few ups and downs for the 33-year-old, with corkscrews, loop-the-loops and 90 degree drops for good measure.

But Saturday provides the Salford star with an opportunity to finally scratch an itch that has agitated him throughout a whirlwind career.

“It’s another final to tick off, but to win one is a must now,” says the Kiwi international.

Despite playing in some of the biggest games in world rugby, Inu has yet to taste glory on the big stage.

He holds an unwanted tag of being one of just two players to lose NRL Grand Finals with three different teams, while last year he tasted more Grand Final heartbreak when Salford lost to St Helens.

To make matters worse, Inu was part of the New Zealand side that won the 2008 World Cup Final, but he wasn’t selected for the showpiece event as head coach Stephen Kearney instead selected Simon Mannering.

“You’ve got to take the losses with the wins,” was Inu’s modest response when quizzed on his Grand Final heartbreaks.

“I’ve been really fortunate to be a part of some of the sides I’ve played for. I’ve loved every part of the game and the players I’ve had around me. You’ve got to enjoy it for what it is.

“But definitely winning on Saturday would be a great thing to look back on when I finish. I could probably put it up there at the top of the highlights of my career; it would be special for us all.”

Inu insists there is a bigger picture, though.

“It’s more than just winning it for myself; there’s a lot more to it and especially this year.

“It’s more the fact that the people and the supporters at Salford know how much it means to them. The history behind the club, just to make a final means way more than winning a medal, it means so much to those people and we know that. That’s something we players want to be a part of delivering, something that we and the fans can keep in the memory bank for years to come.

“We don’t have a team of superstars, but we are a genuine team. It’s full credit to Ian Watson and his staff. He’s recruited on his beliefs and his trust in players, not his trust in names.

“I could go home and see my family and friends and I could list the Salford squad and they wouldn’t know more than half of them. But Watto has recruited a group based on his ideals and beliefs and he’s got us to two major finals.”

A second Final appearance in 12 months is a staggering story for Inu, despite his previous career in the NRL.

Last March, he was made redundant. The demise of Widnes Vikings saw him out of a job and without a club. But in the end, he proved to be yet another Watson masterstroke.

“The system is dumb but that’s another story,” he says.

“To go from relegation to redundancy, and then land on my feet in this team, in the end, is just another part of my story. Everything I’ve been a part of here for the last 18 months has just been special. It’s a great club and the boys are amazing. The fans too; we know how special this would be for them. We all want to win something.”

And despite his rotten luck on the big stage, Inu has advice for his peers heading into the Wembley showdown.

“Going into big games, some players think they have to play differently from normal. They think everything has to be different in a final, but the reality is that it doesn’t. You put yourself in a final because of the way you’ve been playing before that, so there’s nothing you need to change. That’s my advice.

“Personally, I’ve learned to just try and assert myself early in the game, whether it’s getting an early touch or even an early tackle. I try to attack the game rather than let it attack me. If you do that, you quickly get to grips with the speed of the game.”