League: Jared Waerea-Hargreaves faces ultimate test

By Michael Burgess in Huddersfield

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves New Zealand Kiwis during the Four Nations match between the England and New Zealand Kiwis. Photo / Getty Images.
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves New Zealand Kiwis during the Four Nations match between the England and New Zealand Kiwis. Photo / Getty Images.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves regained some personal credibility in the 17-16 win over England - now he faces the ultimate test against the Kangaroos on Sunday.

He has yet to figure in a victorious Kiwis team against Australia, and admits his performances for his country haven't always lived up to expectations.

In that context, Waerea-Hargreaves took an important step forward on Sunday against the Lions.

He was involved early, with plenty of carries and intent, and after an extended spell off the field returned for the final quarter to help see out the result.

There is still room for more from the Roosters enforcer, but it was a necessary step up from his anonymous display in Perth three weeks ago, where he only managed four carries and made two errors in the 26-6 defeat to the Kangaroos.

"I had spoken to the coaches and I couldn't really find a rhythm in the Perth test," said Waerea-Hargreaves. "I was made aware that I definitely [needed] to start the game strong, to go out there and lay a platform. I felt like I did that and personally I was quite happy. I felt like I did my job."

The test against the Kangaroos three weeks ago marked Waerea-Hargreaces' return to the Kiwis jersey, after an absence of almost three years dating back to the World Cup final.

Sydney scribes have been continually amazed by his omission in recent times, after consistent seasons for the Roosters.

But test football is a different beast; some players can step up and others struggle to elevate their game. Waerea -Hargreaves has been behind the likes of Sam Moa and Ben Matulino; now he gets a chance for redemption against Australia, and to finally bank a personal win over the Kangaroos.

He wasn't in the 17 for the 2010 Four Nations final, and not part of the 2014 Four Nations campaign (unavailable for selection, citing fatigue) or the 2015 Anzac test win (not selected).

"Obviously I do know that I haven't been quite as successful in the black jersey so I am here for a reason and that is to get the win," said Waerea-Hargreaves.

Waerea-Hargreaves has been the subject of much media debate since that 26-6 defeat in Perth, but says he hasn't been concerned by it.

"No, not really," said the 27-year-old when asked if he had noticed the bad press. "I don't really focus on what is going on behind the scenes. I focus on what I need to do; that's preparing as well as I can and trying to get out there."

Waerea-Hargreaves still needs to do more to win the trust of David Kidwell and the coaching staff - he had the least minutes of any of the starting forwards on Sunday - but at least he proved he can foot it at this level, albeit in short stints.

"To start with a win you are obviously going to take confidence from it," said Waerea-Hargreaves. "To go into a game like Australia [on Sunday] it's definitely pleasing. [It's a] big game and [we are] looking forward to it."

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