Use the past to change the present. That's the target the Kiwis appear to have set themselves as they seek to create history England.

Don't set aspirational goals, and you might as well not turn up.

So after defeating the Kangaroos for the first time in three years, Michael Maguire's men now shift focus to attempting to knockoff a much longer-held hurdle; winning a three-match series in England.

The last time they did that, 23-year-old captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak was yet to be born.


Back in 1998, Stacey Jones and Daryl Halligan featured alongside Stephen Kearney, Ruben Wiki, Jarrod McCracken, the Iro brothers, Tony and Kevin; Paul brothers, Henry and Robbie, in a team captained and coached by Quentin Pongia and Frank Endacott.

Two decades is a fair few moons ago.

Somewhat ironically, Jones and Halligan are now features of the Kiwis' coaching team.

Nigel Vagana and Motu Tony, both of whom started throughout the memorable 2005 Tri Nations success in England which culminated with a 24-0 final triumph over the Kangaroos, also stalked the sidelines of Hull's KCOM Stadium today.

Their collective presence only adds to a sense that, with a young squad building a culture around performance, this Kiwis side could continue the early momentum of Maguire's tenure.

"That's all part of tours that you get to build history along the way," Maguire acknowledged. "History in my eyes plays a big part in the rest of your life so if you can achieve it you can look back in time and enjoy the fact you've done that.

"This team has a really strong bond. Just watching them as they move around the hotel they've got a really good connection and that, to me, is really important."

With a squad containing seven players with fewer than 10 test caps it is imperative the Kiwis take the next step in tomorrow's opening test in Hull.


Rain, bitterly cold temperatures in the north of England and a parochial crowd won't make life easy.

But from the young skipper down, all the right utterances are being expressed.

Confidence is high but so, too, intent to improve the way they finished the match against the Kangaroos.

"I've only been over here once and we didn't do too well then but the details the coaches have given to us for this tour have been great so we have no excuses," Watene-Zelezniak said.

"It's an awesome achievement to beat the best in the world but it's about not getting ahead of yourself and thinking that you're the best in the world.

"The only difference is that we're away. It's still the same game we played against the Kangaroos; same ball, same rules. We've done our homework and prepped well so we've just to wake up in the morning and be at our best."

Wayne Bennett's England welcome six in-form players from the Super League grand final, while 11 return from the 36-18 victory over the Kiwis in Denver in June.

That result is somewhat misleading, though, with the Kiwis naming seven rookies due to the unavailability of Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Adam Blair, among others.

"It was a crazy game both teams were pretty hyped up," Bennett said. "It was a pretty hot day and we were at altitude. After 15 minutes they were all gone, all gassed. After that it was just who could hold the ball the longest. I'm not taking much out of that."

Bennett, who confirmed Sam Tomkins will start in the halves for his first test in four years, compared the importance of drawing opening blood in a three-test series to State of Origin.

"We need to do our best, play well. Whether it's good enough to win the series or not I'm not sure. What I am sure of is if we aren't at our best we've got no chance."

Such respect from Brisbane's soon-to-be Rabbitohs supercoach suggests just how far the Kiwis have come since last year's World Cup capitulation.

Now their quest for history begins.