Hugh McGahan: Big query over Kiwis' motivation

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Are we still optimistic this Kiwi team is going to win the Rugby League World Cup?

I don't know if what I saw last night was worth getting excited about, but I have concerns about their motivation. It seems they are trying too hard to make things click and the more they try, the more laboured their movements.

Reports before last night's game said the coaches - including Wayne Bennett - demanded better from the whole team. But the pressure on the players who control the structure of the team, Thomas Leuluai and Benji Marshall, was obvious.

It was also clear some senior players needed to perform up to expectations. The game against Australia was below par, and not even the players have disagreed with that, but why wait until you have to win to produce a performance?

Performing at optimum level is critical to sustaining a reputation for consistency but unfortunately our only reputation is for inconsistency.

Before the game against Australia Stacey Jones was reported as saying that we should not be too upset with a loss to the Kangaroos as it would relieve pressure and the team would fly under the radar; cruising into the semifinals and final without much scrutiny, or words to that effect.

I cannot believe this would be the attitude of senior players and staff. It flies in the face of what was stated by the hierarchy before the Anzac test.

This team wanted to be known as a team of consistency and one of the great Kiwi teams.

They were in desperation mode just to make the semifinal. There was a possibility they would take some pressure off, but the opposite happened - more pressure which will grow through the tournament.

There is a difference between playing with desperation and being desperate to win. You don't want the latter. The emotional difference means you are not enjoying what you are doing and you cannot afford to not enjoy a physical, confrontational and intimidating sport.

Despite last night's result, attitude will be all-important for the next encounter, against the English. The need to win this one is vital.

Taking confidence against England is paramount. What we definitely don't want is to lose then look for revenge next time. That's a loser's motivation and we will always be a loser if we head down that track.


- Herald on Sunday

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