Simon Mannering and Adam Blair could set a remarkable record in Canberra tonight. If the Kiwis win, Mannering and Blair will become the first New Zealanders to achieve six wins over the Kangaroos.

The forward stalwarts will go ahead of greats such as Stacey Jones and Ruben Wiki, as well as modern players Thomas Leuluai and Manu Vatuvei (all five victories).

Mannering and Blair's five wins includes the 2008 World Cup, the 2010 and 2014 Four Nations victories and the 2015 Anzac test triumph.

Mannering, 30, is entering his 12th year as a Kiwi. Blair, 31, also made his test debut in 2006. Their record is extraordinary by Kiwis standards, given the Kangaroos' historical dominance of transtasman clashes.


A generation of Kiwis didn't taste a victory over Australia between 1971 and 1982. Even in the 1980s, famous names such as Mark Graham, Graeme West, Olsen Filipaina and Kevin Tamati experienced victory over the Kangaroos only once and there was another barren streak for New Zealand between 1991 and 1997.

There has been a gradual turning of the tide over the past decade, coinciding in a record number of Kiwis in the NRL. Australia will always be the dominant partner of the rivalry, but it's getting closer.

Mannering's presence is crucial tonight. He remains one of the most effective tacklers in the sport and is the king of the "one percenters", the unsung tasks often key to a result.

He last played in the black and white V in the 2015 Anzac test - and the Kiwis have been unable to beat the Kangaroos since then in four attempts.

"Guys like Simon make other players play better," said Jones.

"He epitomises what the Kiwis jersey is all about and is a bloke that you always want in your team."

And just by his presence, Mannering seems to add belief.

"Having him around this time has added so much," said Jesse Bromwich. "He might not be the captain any more but he brings so much leadership. It gives you confidence to have him in the team."