They were billed as the ­biggest, baddest and meanest forward pack to come out of the Shaky Isles but Australia's forwards have struck an early blow over their New Zealand counterparts ahead of the Four Nations.

Boasting the likes of Jason Taumalolo, Jesse Bromwich and Jared Waerea-­Hargreaves, the black and whites were expected to dominate the middle of the field in the Perth Test.

Instead, they were turned back by strong performances from Trent Merrin, Shannon Boyd, Matt Scott and Tyson Frizell.

Merrin, in particular, was extremely effective in his first Test in the starting side and the Panthers forward confirmed that stopping the Kiwi big men was the focus for much of the week.


"That was our mission," Merrin said.

"You look across their pack and it's a talented pack and a strong pack.

"We knew we had a massive job on our hands and that was our main focus as a pack, to really rip in, and I think we did that really well.

"We knew what we were capable of doing. It's something we can take confidence out of for the tour."

Australia will play Scotland in their tournament opener on October 28 before a rematch with New Zealand and a clash against England in November.

England boast a similarly brutal forward pack, led by the Burgess brothers, James Graham and Elliott Whitehead, but Merrin said Australia would once again focus on muzzling their opposition.

"Staying solid as a group and not letting each other down, those are the principals we'll be taking into it," he said.

"We know these countries we're going to come up against. They're going to be strong in the middle and as long as we concentrate on what we can control, the rest will take care of itself."

Merrin singled out rookie forwards Boyd and Frizell, who both enjoyed good performances on debut, for their maturity against a pack many believe is the best in the world.

"They were a bit nervous but it showed the maturity of them as players and as young men stepping in and debuting for their country," he said.

"They handled it incredibly."

Fullback Darius Boyd also praised the young brigade.

"Big Shannon Boyd, he was blowing there a bit but he kept working hard the whole game and didn't let anyone down," Boyd said.

"When Frizz came on he was really athletic with his footwork and he's very strong. He made some good runs and some good quick play-the-balls as well."