Richie Barnett on league

Opinion and analysis from former Kiwis captain Richie Barnett

Richie Barnett: Belief, tight control key to taming Kangaroos

19 comments
Captain Benji Marshall. Photo / Greg Bowker
Captain Benji Marshall. Photo / Greg Bowker

Negating the influence of that incredible Aussie spine is the key to breaking the stranglehold the Kangaroos have over the Kiwis.

Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater play together for club, state and country and that's a massive advantage.

But they are human and that's the way the Kiwis must look at it. They need to believe in themselves. Belief is the key. If you believe, anything can happen.

The way to negate the advantage of the established Kangaroos combinations is to apply pressure at the right end of the field. To do that the Kiwis must control the ball.

The first 20 minutes are crucial. The Kiwis must keep it tight. That means limiting mistakes, finding the ground with their kicks and making good defensive decisions out wide. They didn't do any of those things last year in Newcastle and the game was over after 20 minutes.

In hot conditions in Townsville the effect of any lapses in discipline will be multiplied. If the Kiwis slip up the Aussies will sense weakness and slip into autopilot. If they get enough chances near the Kiwis' line they have enough good players to crack it.

But Benji Marshall and Kieran Foran need to be patient. They need to build pressure at the end of each set with their kicks, and bring out the best in edge runners such as Frank Pritchard, Simon Mannering and Kevin Proctor. If they can trigger quick play-the-balls, Issac Luke's running game can come into play.

The second phase play needs to be managed carefully. The Kiwis have a clear edge in height in the back row that can be an advantage with players pushing through the line and off-loading, while the likes of Sam Kasiano and Ben Matulino need to choose wisely when to let the ball go.

This is the start of the campaign to defend the World Cup in 2013. The Kiwis need to forget about the idea of one-off tests, and build a winning culture, a culture of excellence.

- NZ Herald

Have your say

We aim to have healthy debate. But we won't publish comments that abuse others. View commenting guidelines.

1200 characters left

Sort by
  • Oldest

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_a4 at 30 Aug 2014 22:13:49 Processing Time: 888ms