League: Kiwis have had enough of losses

By Steve Deane

Kieran Foran says it will be a challenge matching up to the Aussie combinations. Photo / Getty Images
Kieran Foran says it will be a challenge matching up to the Aussie combinations. Photo / Getty Images

Off the top of his head, Kieran Foran doesn't know exactly how many test matches he has lost to Australia. It could be three, maybe it's four. What he does know is that "it's enough to know that I am sick of walking off having lost".

That sums up the Kiwis' mentality heading into a match in Townsville tonight that marks the start of their build-up to next year's world cup defence in Great Britain.

Pulling off the odd shock victory in a tournament is nice, but it's not enough any more. Matches such as tonight's simply can't be written off as inevitable defeats.

"We'll be going out there to get success tonight and everything we've done this week has been geared to that," coach Stephen Kearney said.

'We've been doing everything we can to make sure that everyone executes their jobs and we feel if we do that we give ourselves a great opportunity of getting a win."

Kearney might quibble a little over the nature of recent one-off defeats - "it depends how you classify haven't gone well" - but the results are there in black and white. Despite the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations victories, wins over the Kangaroos have remained extremely rare.

To get one tonight captain Benji Marshall, Foran and hooker Issac Luke must strike a combination that at least matches the effectiveness of Kangaroos counterparts Cooper Cronk, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith.

That ain't easy, Foran pointed out.

"It's bloody hard," he said. "These Aussie combinations play together all through the year. They play together at Origin. They don't have to change anything when they come together. Me and Benji get four sessions to come in and try to build a combination. "It's incredibly hard but I am starting to feel that we are getting there. We have played alongside each other a few times now and things have gelled nicely."

The debuts of centre Dean Whare and forwards Sam Kasiano and Kevin Proctor confirm at least one eye is on the World Cup, but success now is what the Kiwis really crave.

"Look, it is just important for us to win one of these one off test matches, just for our confidence," Marshall said.

Foran is confident his personal breakthrough moment is near.

"I think we've picked a squad that can do them," he said. "I'm really impressed with the forward pack. They can all play with the ball. They are big boys and they've all played together.

"The key for us is just keeping them down their end of the field. If we are making good metres and we can get a good kick at the end of the set and make them bring it out of yardage all game it nullifies blokes like Thurston and Billy Slater. That's the way to shut them down - don't give them repeat sets on your line because sooner or later they are good enough players to make you pay."

- NZ Herald

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