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Kiwis to unite nation - Australian Rugby league News
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globalrugbyleague - Sun, 07 Oct 2007 11:34:00 GMT
Despondent All-Blacks fans should raise the decibel of support for their Rugby League counterparts, the Kiwis, during next weekend’s test match against the Kangaroos.

Following Saturday’s shock 2-point (20-18) elimination from the Rugby Union World Cup care of France, all of New Zealand will now swap codes for a chance to salvage some pride.

And why not?

While the All-Blacks have mastered the art of eliminating themselves earlier on in the Union tournament, the same cannot be said for their cross-code cousins.

Yes, the All-Blacks have captured 1 world cup (1987) in the game they play in heaven but it wouldn’t take a lot for the Kiwis to catch up to that record with the League world cup just around the corner.

Okay, Ruben Wiki, Stacey Jones and Nigel Vagana have retired from rep football. But look at the equally skilled blokes running out in the black and white jerseys in Wellington next Sunday.

Key players to look out for come game time are Fuifui MoiMoi, Krisnan Inu and Chase Stanley. All players in-demand both at club and international level.

Those three names alone bring enough toughness, fitness, endurance skill and youthful rejuvenation to convince me that downtrodden All-Blacks fans can rely on the Kiwis to get the job done.

Once the world cup arrives next year coach Gary Kemble (who replaces the innovative Brian McClennan) may well be able to add a few other injured stars to that list like Sonny Bill Williams.

Because of the one nation dominance in international rugby league, the best way to measure how far the Kiwis have come is to look at their win-loss record against Australia between the last two Rugby Union world cup tournaments.

Since 2003 the Kiwis – under the guidance of 2 different coaches – have played the Kangaroos 13 times, won three times (including a final), drawn once and lost 9 times.

On first appearances you might think this story just killed itself off. But let’s look at some other figures.

Australia has won by 10-points or less in 5 of those last 9 games while New Zealand holds the only scoreless win since 2000.

Since the installment of the Tri-Nations series in 2004, New Zealand have only missed a spot in the final once. Their higher-profile cousins wish they could hold that claim too.

With last year’s Tri-Nations thriller going into golden-point extra time, chances are goal kicking in international league is going to become more crucial for the Kiwis then ever before.

Krisnan Inu – who amassed 37 goals for the Eels in 2007 – could hold the fate of next week’s game from the front foot in only his second Test representing New Zealand.

It was only two-years ago they won their first international title, the Tri Nations, after beating Australia senseless 24-0 at Elland Rd, Leeds.

They only narrowly returned that title back to Australia the following year via a 16-12 loss in Sydney.

Minus injuries they are strong odds to make the 2008 Rugby League World Cup final alongside Australia.

How they handle that expectation could offer some valuable lessons for Graham Henry and his mob across the other side of the fence.

Victory by New Zealand in the 2008 Rugby League world cup would heal the hurt that their nation is feeling right now and provide a pathway of ideas for the All-Blacks 2011 campaign.

AUSTRALIA V NEW ZEALAND
Wellington Stadium
Kick-Off – 3:30pm (1:30pm AEST)
Referee: TBA

KANGAROOS: Brett Stewart, Greg Inglis, Mark Gasnier, Justin Hodges, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Bird, Cooper Cronk, Brent Kite, Cameron Smith (c), Petero Civoniceva, Nathan Hindmarsh, Ryan Hoffman, Paul Gallen Interchange: Kurt Gidley, Willie Mason, Steve Price, Michael Crocker Coach: Ricky Stuart
KIWIS: Krisnan Inu, Luke Covell, Steve Matai, Paul Whatuira, Taniela Tuiaki, Ben Roberts, Jeremy Smith, Fuifui MoiMoi, David Faiumu, Roy Asotasi, Frank Pritchard, Simon Mannering, Dene Halatau, Jeff Lima, Louis Anderson, Sam Rapira, Jeremy Smith (a different one), Chase Stanley, Shontayne Hape Coach: Gary Kemble - Read More, Here