The Kiwis do a mean haka. It's stirring, emotional and passionate but they haven't grafted enough game smarts on to all that ceremony.

High work-rates and low mistake counts are gold bullion in any sport and in league, repeat sets of intense execution are the currency to create pressure and force mistakes from rivals struggling with fatigue.

The absence of Simon Mannering removes the relentless shifts he puts in and there is a similar hole in the backline without Dean Whare to guide the defensive line and make sensible decisions on attack.

The Kiwis can start a pack of mountain men but who will do the Sherpas' work, the hard toil and slog to free the main men for their assault on the Four Nations tournament tomorrow against England?


A run-on pack should have plenty of bite but this season it has been a fitful commodity from Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Issac Luke.

Plenty of seethe and hiss all right but when their tallies are totted up, they have not been doing the business.

Nor has Shaun Johnson. He has magical skills and a league brain which often appears several steps ahead of his colleagues. However, at the Warriors this season he's lagged behind on both counts.

He was cleared to play but a nagging thigh injury allowed him to fall back on that as a reason for his lack of impact.

There's an old adage in sport that when you take the field, you are judged on that performance. Subsequent excuses about a cold or a leg strain don't cut it.

New coach David Kidwell was put through the wringer as much as his team was against the Kangaroos in Perth. His player rotations were at odds with form and how the game unfolded while the mistake rates and muddled patterns showed a poor buildup and inability to change tack. The Kiwis were off their game.

That can be waived as an awkward start for Kidwell as he moved into the top job vacated by Stephen Kearney. If he takes that test apart, he has plenty to address in tactics and attitude with the same group of players who tangle with England at Huddersfield.

Kidwell knows all about the rough and tumble part of the game as a passionate former Kiwi and as someone who has been on the assistant coaching roster with the Storm, Wests Tigers and Kiwis.

Now he's got the keys to the big job. Kidwell is up against an enduring coaching legend in Wayne Bennett who brings one of the great minds to the game.

He's experienced it all before and will have England tightly assembled for a physical and tactical combat. Kidwell knows what will be coming from the Burgess brothers, James Graham, and Gareth Widdop.

Countering that onslaught is mandatory if the Kiwis are going to begin this tournament with a performance to match the rhetoric which they earned at the Four Nations tournament in 2014.

They'll need more, much more from everyone to knock England off their stride and take them away from their training ground theories and into that uncertain territory the Kiwis have been living in.