League: Kiwis thrash Cook Islands

Shaun Johnson makes a break to score a try during the World Cup warm-up game between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. Photo / Getty Images
Shaun Johnson makes a break to score a try during the World Cup warm-up game between New Zealand and the Cook Islands. Photo / Getty Images

The Kiwis have demolished the Cook Islands 50-0 in their only warm-up game before the Rugby League World Cup.

New Zealand hit the ground running in Doncaster, leading 24-0 at halftime with tries to Jason Nightingale, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei and Bryson Goodwin.

Nightingale and Goodwin completed doubles in the second half as the Kiwis ran in nine tries in total. Hooker Issac Luke was awarded man of the match.

"The guys are certainly better for a run," said the Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney. "There were parts of our game that were a bit rusty out there, but it was a good start for us.

"The improvement areas are in both defence and attack, to be fair, and given that some of the guys haven't played in six weeks it was a good performance, but our focus for this week is to improve both areas."

Kieran Foran, the Kiwis vice-captain, was brought into the team as a late replacement for Thomas Leuluai, who rested a groin strain. Foran was due to sit this match out, along with other Kiwi players who were involved in the NRL grand final, but instead combined in the halves with Shaun Johnson for just the second time, following April's test against the Kangaroos in Canberra.

Johnson's pace was on show as he scored from 60m in the second half.

The Kiwis bench for this game - which wasn't an official test match - was extended before kick-off with the inclusion of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. He got to wear the Kiwis jersey for the first time, playing 10mins at the end.

Before the match, the Kiwis delivered a new haka, led by Luke. Called Te Iwi Kiwi, the haka was created by members of the Kiwi team along with a cultural advisor.

The Kiwis open their tournament against Samoa next Monday morning.

Kiwis 50 (Bryson Goodwin 2, Jason Nightingale 2, Shaun Johnson, Elijah Taylor, Manu Vatuvei, Kevin Locke tries. Penalty try. Johnson 4, Goodwin 2, Locke 1 goals). Cook Islands 0

- With Newstalk ZB

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