The Kiwis are down playing the surprise absence of Cooper Cronk ahead of Sunday's test, saying that their focus remains "totally on themselves."

Cronk's omission is the big talking point ahead of the test on Sunday (NZT), but the Kiwis were staying mum on the issue.

The celebrated halfback was surprisingly left out of the Kangaroos team for the match in Coventry, with Sharks half James Maloney preferred in his place.

Australian officials say Cronk is being rested, after another full season of club and representative fixtures which culminated in the grand final.


It might be logical, but it does add another dimension to Sunday's match - though the Kiwis played a straight bat to those suggestions.

"I don't know what is going on in their camp," said Kiwis coach David Kidwell. "All I know is what is going on in our camp. That is my focus. We are just worried about us and what we do."

Senior forward Adam Blair echoed those sentiments, even claiming that he had been unaware of Cronk's omission.

"I haven't really looked at the team," said Blair. "[This is the] first time I have heard about Cooper. Like David said, our focus is our camp. We can only get better with what we have here and we won't worry about anyone else."

New Zealand Captain Jesse Bromwich, who has played alongside Cronk at the Storm for five seasons, also shrugged off the absence of the 32-year-old.

"They have a very handy player in James Maloney," said Bromwich. "He won the premiership this year and he has been a very good player for a long time. They have a few good players to choose from and it is tough to come up against but we have to do our best and improve on last week."

Cronk's absence won't necessarily weaken the Kangaroos. He is a supreme organizer, and has a wonderful kicking game, but Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston can also claim those attributes. What Maloney offers is a running threat - he one of the best broken field runners in the game - whereas Cronk is more of a support player. Maloney will severely test the Kiwis' defence around the edges of the ruck, especially if Australia can get their second phase game going like they did in Perth three weeks ago.

The Kiwis completed their captain's run at Ricoh Arena on Friday afternoon, in clear but chilly conditions. The team did some drills and backline moves, while the forwards did some close quarter work. Shaun Johnson, Issac Luke and Jordan Kahu all practiced their goal kicking.

The stadium, which is home to League One football side Coventry City and English Premiership rugby team Wasps, has never hosted a major league fixture before.

Organisers are expecting a crowd of between 20,000 and 25,000 for the double header, which kicks off with England vs Scotland at 5.30pm local time (Sunday 6:30am NZT) before the transtasman clash at 8.00pm local time (Sunday 9am NZT).

Autex - Proud sponsors of New Zealand rugby league since 1981​