Rugby League: Haka backfired on Kiwis

By Paul Crawley in Manchester

The Kiwis perform the haka ahead of the rugby league World Cup final. Photo /Getty Images
The Kiwis perform the haka ahead of the rugby league World Cup final. Photo /Getty Images

Sam Thaiday has revealed how the haka backfired on the Kiwis as the Kangaroos forwards went out on a mission to prove to the world that they weren't going to back down to the pack rated the biggest and meanest at the World Cup.

While the Kiwi forwards went into the match with a fearsome reputation, the unsung heroes in Australia's 34-2 victory were the foot soldiers up front who set up the win with some bone crunching defence that started from the very first set of the match.

Thaiday told how the Kangaroo forwards got together in the sheds before the match and spoke about how important it was for them to get on top of the Kiwis' forwards - and watching the haka only reinforced why they had to start strong.

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"The haka is something that really inspires the Kiwis boys," Thaiday said.

"There is so much energy behind it, there is so much of an aura behind it, that it usually pumps the boys up and fires them up.

"We knew that first set for us was going to be make or break.

"We just made sure that we went out there and defensively we wanted to give as much as they wanted to give.

"That really set the platform that first set of six for what we wanted to do for the rest of the game.

"We talked about it in the sheds before we ran out for warm up.

"The backs usually go out a little bit early and do a bit of kick catch and it is something we had a chat about before we went out on the field - that we knew that any game of rugby league is won in the forward pack.

"Tim (Sheens) started it off and Paul Gallen is one of the leaders of the forward pack but most of the boys had a bit of a say.

"Matt Scott and Corey Parker too were very vocal about making sure that we did dominate them.

"We had a very tough forward pack up against us that we had to try and dominate.

"Throughout this World Cup they have rolled off the back of their forwards and that is something we discussed throughout the week as a forward pack.

"If we beat their forwards we knew that we were going to win the game and I think from the front row to the backrow to the guys on the bench they all did a fantastic job."

Man of the match Johnathan Thurston also credited the forwards for laying the platform for the victory.

"There are a lot of unsung heroes in this side. Guys like Corey Parker, our bookends Matty Scott, Jimmy Tamou, Paul Gallen," Thurston said.

"Our middle third were unbelievable tonight and that is where big games are won, through your middle third.

"Because if you don't win that battle then your halves can't play any football so a lot of credit needs to go to our middle third, they were unbelievable."

- The Daily Telegraph

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