Dallin Watene-Zelezniak has dismissed any thoughts of complacency in the Kiwis camp, ahead of the first test against England in Hull on Sunday (NZT).

The Kiwis go into that match with a rare win over Australia under their belts, after the surprise 26-24 victory two weeks ago.

That performance was more dominant than the scoreline suggests, as they monopolised possession and territory for long periods.

It sets the Kiwis up well, especially given it broke a run of three losses dating back to last year's World Cup, but the new captain insists that constant improvement is the only measure for this New Zealand side.


"It was awesome for confidence but we can't get ahead of ourselves," Watene-Zelezniak told Radio Sport. "There are three tests coming up. That was a good game to get out of the way and get our confidence up, but there were also things we didn't do well in that game and [we] almost shot ourselves in the foot.

''We have done our review and worked out what we did wrong and take those negatives out of our game, and [also] take the positives out of [that match] into this series."

Watene-Zelezniak didn't go into detail on the negatives from the Mt Smart match, although the Kiwis were exposed on the blindside on several occasions, and also clocked off with less than seven minutes to play.

Regardless of Watene-Zelezniak's warnings, it feels like the Kiwis haven't arrived in England in such fine fettle for years.

In 2016 they were coming off a heavy 26-6 loss to the Kangaroos in Perth, a game that was virtually with 20 minutes to play. Coach David Kidwell was also learning on the fly, after getting the job following Stephen Kearney's move to the Warriors.

The Kiwis had a solid first up win over England in Huddersfield but that was the high point, followed by two losses to Australia and a shock draw with Scotland.

A year earlier the Kiwis arrived in England as the No 1 team in the world, having beaten the Kangaroos in three successive tests. But it was a false marker, and the New Zealand side were depleted, with Shaun Johnson, Thomas Leuluai, Kieran Foran, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves among the high profile absentee. They were missed, and England took the series 2-1 with test wins in Hull and Wigan.

In 2011 Kearney's team was thrashed 42-6 in Newcastle ahead of their Northern tour, in a performance labelled "unacceptable" by the coach. Things didn't improve in England, as the Kiwis lost to Australia before a 28-6 defeat to England in Hull.


Apart from the fillip of the Australia win, the Kiwis are fit and in form, with many having played deep into the NRL finals series. They also have a blend of experience and youth, with a number of youngsters savouring the touring experience for the first time.

But England, on their grounds, in their conditions and in front of their passionate supporters, is never easy. The Kiwis haven't won a series there since 1998, with the next best a drawn rubber in 2002.

For his part Watene-Zelezniak, who celebrated the birth of his second child last week, has continued to take the captaincy role in his stride.

"The biggest thing for me was not changing anything, continuing to do what I did on and off the field," said Watene-Zelezniak.

"That's showing and leading through my actions [and] giving my all for the team."

The 23-year-old, who is the second-youngest skipper in Kiwis history, is also taking an inclusive approach to leadership.

"I told the boys the first time I spoke to them I might be the captain but all of us are leaders and it is going to take all of us to beat the Kangaroos and England," said Watene-Zelezniak. "[And] guys like Jesse [Bromwich], Jared [Waerea-Hargreaves], Shaun [Johnson], Adam Blair [they] have been around for a long time [and are] helping me learn and grow as a captain."

The Kiwis travelled from Manchester to Hull overnight, ahead of their final training session in Hull today.