Michael Maguire has lofty expectations for this Kiwis team.
At the most recent Rugby League World Cup, in 2017, the New Zealand outfit fell to a shock exit in the quarter-finals following a 4-2 defeat to Fiji. A lot has changed since then, and redemption awaits in England in October.
Their World Cup preparations got off to a great start at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday night in an impressive 26-6 win over Tonga. It was a performance that showed the potential in a side Maguire wants to turn into the best defensive team in the international game.
"I think they set a fair standard out there, but we're going to have to continue to work hard to achieve that," Maguire said.
"Every game is different and different teams will come at you. History tells you that you need to be strong in that area to be a successful team. We're setting a standard in what we want to do, and I think that's something the players spoke about themselves; how they want to be seen and not worrying about other teams.
"We've got to keep working hard obviously when we come back into camp at the end of the year, but they've set a fair standard with how we go about things, which is a credit to the players."
Going into the match, there were plenty of expectations around what this Kiwis team could produce as, on paper, it was the most talented in some time. However, given the national team hadn't been in action since 2019, it was hard to say how they would perform after just a week together.
Those questions were answered after 10 minutes when the Kiwis shot out to a 12-0 lead.
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The match will be beneficial for the group when they get back together for the World Cup following the NRL season, and could put them a step ahead of the likes of Australia and England in preparations, as the other tier one nations are yet to come together as a group this year.
"We've definitely set a platform of how we want to play when we do get back into camp," Maguire said.
"I'll get around the players through the rest of the season and just have a chat around what they took from this game, but I think there's big steps further forward we can take with the team. There are areas that we will talk about, but they've set a platform for what they want to be.
"For the boys – especially the senior players – this has been three or four years in the making where they wanted to go with the team; it's continually evolving. I know we've had a two-year break, but to see the boys walk straight back into camp, they didn't miss a beat."