Steve Irwin back for Bundy

DESPITE his knee “hanging by a thread”, former Brisbane Bronco Steve Irwin has answered the call from Bundaberg coach Craig Buckley ahead of next weekend’s XXXX Challenge against Townsville.

Unavailable for the 47th Battalion Trophy because of injury, Irwin has played in fits and starts in the past few weeks and was confident he would get through what is expected to be a brutal game.

“Half the reason I’m playing is to do it for Buck,” Irwin said last night.

“I rate him highly as a coach and a person and he’s a bit of a mentor for me, I suppose.”

He compared Buckley to champion coach Wayne Bennett.

“He keeps it really simple but away from the field is genuine; straight up and down,” Irwin said.

With Josh and Matt Tanner proving lethal in the halves, Irwin was not sure where he would slot into the confident squad.

“We haven’t spoken about that yet, but training (tonight) will be when things start coming together,” Irwin said.

Despite acknowledging that his professional career was behind him, Irwin admitted it would be nice to prove some punters wrong.

“It’s always nice to play well and send a message to some blokes in Canberra, but every game I play I try and do my best.”

Hervey Bay’s Ricky Boheme and Isis playmaker Nathan Sullivan have also been selected, with Bay star Tyrone Hopgood stung with a suspension for pulling out of the Battalion triumph at the last minute.

“He pulled out of the rep game the day before which let Bundaberg rugby league down and let his team-mates down,” BRL president Mal Breen said.

Stacked against them is the introduction of the “10-four interchange rule”, which allows just 10 changes in the game and four after half-time.

The game will be the full 80 minutes, and will sting the legs of Bundaberg’s big men.

“It’s going to be a tough slog, no doubt,” Irwin said.

“But we’ve got nothing to lose, we weren’t expected to make it this far.”

Bundaberg Rugby League Squad

To play Townsville in the 2010 XXXX Challenge at Langland’s Park on Saturday May 22

Barry Blackman

Ricky Boheme

Matt Curtis

Lyal Darby

AJ Evans

Peter Grant

Matt Hall

Clinton Horne

Steve Irwin

Glen Kearton

Brent Kuskey

Cameron Ricciardi

Peter Sipple

Nathan Sullivan

Matt Tanner

Josh Tanner

Matt Templeman

Chris Tydoff

Bas Vaihu

Michael Wise