Final countdown for ANZAC rugby league test

first_imgBut instead of recognizing the two countries’ close connection, the teams’ coaches have got into a war of words before the double header in Canberra, where both the New Zealand and Australian women’s teams will also play.The Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has criticized the Kiwis camp in his weekly newspaper column, titled “Where the bloody hell are you?”Meninga’s claimed the Kiwis were “nowhere to be seen” in the lead up to the match, while the Kangaroos have been fulfilling publicity requirements on their own.Meninga said there was an onus on both teams to promote the match especially given it’s in a World Cup year.Not one to back down from a challenge, Kiwis coach David Kidwell addressed Meninga’s comments while awkwardly sitting right next to him at the coaches’ press conference.”I’m the same with Mal, we want international football to be at the pinnacle and we’ll do our part but the best part we can do is to have a great game on Friday night and that’s where our focus has got to be,” Kidwell said.While the coaches are happy to enter a verbal sparring session, the players themselves are more focussed on the numbers.With 99 wins against New Zealand, Australia is aiming to become the first international team in rugby league history to win 100 Tests against an opponent.On top of that, Captain Cameron Smith will become just the second Australian to wear the Green and Gold jumper 50 times behind Darren Lockyer.Smith said he’s incredibly honoured to reach the milestone.”I’ve been very lucky along the way, I think I’ve mentioned that all week that I’m very fortunate to wear the jersey so many times.”As far as my preparations are concerned it hasn’t really been about the number of Test matches that I’ll play tomorrow, it’s just been about where the team’s at with our preparations physically and mentally (and) where we need to be tomorrow night to have a chance at winning the Test match,” Smith said.While Australia recognizes the great achievements of their captain, tonight will mark the revival of one of New Zealand’s most polarizing playerHaving last played for New Zealand in 2011, Russell Packer thought his NRL and representative career was all but over when he was convicted of assault in 2014 but he’s been given a second chance, starting at prop in tonight’s match.The 27-year-old said he’s been incredibly lucky.”But I’ve also put in a lot of hard work and I’ve had a lot of support behind me from my family.”It’s probably a little bit of reward for everyone along the way for me to be recognized and represent my country again,” Packer said.Also returning for the Kiwis after a two year self-enforced hiatus is former captain Simon Mannering as well as Warriors first-five Kieran Foran.Tonight’s match will be the final mid-year test played between the two with a revamp of the international schedule underway.It’ll also be the final time the two sides play one another before the World Cup later this year.Tonight’s double header will start with the Australian Jillaroos women taking on the Kiwi Ferns at 7.30. Photo: PHOTOSPORT Kiwis coach David Kidwell.last_img read more