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

Stephen Kearney: No regrets on Issac Luke decision

Lewis Brown filled in for Issac Luke. Photo / Getty
Lewis Brown filled in for Issac Luke. Photo / Getty

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has no regrets over his selection decisions, despite their attack being blunted in the 16-0 loss to Australia on Friday night.

It was a courageous defensive performance but the Kiwis hardly fired a shot on attack as they looked predictable and lacked creativity.

It felt like Kearney's decision not to select Issac Luke - opting instead for Lewis Brown and debutant Kenny Bromwich in the crucial No9 role - backfired, as the Kiwis lacked a running and kicking game from dummy half.

Was it a mistake?

"Some people might say yes but if I look at the big picture...the energy those boys (Brown and Bromwich) showed [on Friday night] and through the course of the week was wonderful," said Kearney. "I don't think they let us down and I wouldnt change it if I had my time over again."

Kearney also confirmed that Luke was available for selection, after the player had expressed self doubt over his current form.

"He was definitely available, despite what he said the week before," said Kearney. "He is a Kiwi, always will be, he's part of the family. He will be hungry to be back in the Kiwis jumper and that is a positive for everyone."

Overall, Kearney had mixed feelings about the match, which represented the first time the Kiwis have been held to nil since the 58-0 drubbing in Wellington in 2007.

"It's a tough one," said Kearney. "I'm disappointed with the result but if you look at the heart and spirit they defended with tonight it is hard to be real disappointed. It is a wonderful base for us to build on but to move forward we need to be sharper with our attack. The Australians took it to us in defence and we probably didn't handle it as good as we should have in attack."

Kearney - like most of his players - denied that the manner of the result was a setback for the previously dominant Kiwis.

"I don't look at it as a setback - I look at it as an opportunity," said Kearney. "It's a lesson in where we need to be better. That's how I look at it."

- NZ Herald

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