Michael Burgess is the football and rugby league writer for the Herald on Sunday.

League: Kiwis confident despite long odds

Jason Nightingale. Photo / Getty Images.
Jason Nightingale. Photo / Getty Images.

The Kiwis know they are the underdogs for Friday's Anzac test, but remain confident of a history making upset.

Despite their status as the world's No 1 team, and three successive victories over the Kangaroos (including two by emphatic margins), it feels like things have reverted to type ahead of this week's clash.

One Australian bookmaker quoted the home side at $1.28 for the win, with the Kiwis drifting to $3.75 late yesterday.

After the withdrawal of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran and the non selection of Issac Luke the Kiwis could have up to three members of their spine playing outside their regular positions, and makeshift options throughout the back line.

Down the years that often been the case. New Zealand doesn't have the same depth as Australia, and any injuries or suspension can have dramatic implications, especially in the play making positions.

But the Kiwis have built up huge reservoirs of belief over the last two years and still have an imposing forward pack.

"The depth in our squad is vastly improved and we have played a lot of test matches without [key] players in the past," said veteran winger Jason Nightingale. "The players that do come in are trusted to do a job and it is simplified for them. That is what gives us the confidence to take the field no matter what players you have in your roster."

During the 2014 Four Nations the team were without Tuivasa-Sheck and Thomas Leuluai (for the final) while Jason Taumalolo and Dean Whare missed last year's 26-12 Anzac test win in Brisbane.

But individuals have gone to another level in the black and white jersey and that will need to happen again on Friday.

"We'll have to wait and see," said coach Stephen Kearney. "I'm sure if we prepare in the right way and take our best game to the stadium we will give ourselves a great chance."

The Kiwis return to Kearney's old home patch - Parramatta - for a opposed training session with the Junior Kiwis on Tuesday morning. In the afternoon they travel to Newcastle, where they will be based until Saturday.

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