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|Tuqiri says Kangaroos have mental edge|
|Topic Started: Nov 7 2010, 08:55 AM (148 Views)|
|stacey||Nov 7 2010, 08:55 AM Post #1|
THE fact that New Zealand threw so much at the Australians - even plastic beer bottles - and still came up short has given the Kangaroos a psychological edge as the two sides head into Saturday night's Four Nations final, according to winger Lote Tuqiri.
In front of 44,324 people in the redeveloped Eden Park, the Kiwis also unveiled a new haka, which was clearly intended to put the Australians off their game. Members of the crowd booed during Australia's national anthem, giving the night a hostile edge. But the fact the Kangaroos won so convincingly in spite of the circumstances has given Tuqiri confidence the squad can do the job on home soil in Brisbane.
''Especially after their haka and everything else, they came out pumped up,'' Tuqiri said. ''There was everything there in that game for us to fail. People may have given us excuses to fail, but certainly not this group. It was really good to see.''
The crowd rained plastic beer bottles during a Mexican wave, one of which hit Kangaroos forward Petero Civoniceva on the back while he was on the interchange bench, and the Kiwi players were their own typical brand of aggressive.
''There was a bit of heat, a bit of physicality, which was good,'' Tuqiri said. ''You expect that from a Kiwi team. But I was real impressed by the way we stood up and silenced that crowd pretty early.
''The thing about Aussie teams over the years is, we just get on and do the job that's there to be done. I don't think we try to get into too much of that intimidation factor.
''It was [intimidating] from the start, the thing with the crowd, the anthem, singing through ours and booing through it. I thought that was pretty disrespectful … but we just got out there and did the job. That was the really impressive thing about what we did.''
Others, though, were mindful of history. In 2008, the Kangaroos won their preliminary match against the Kiwis in the World Cup only to lose in the final, making back-rower Paul Gallen wary of claiming an edge over his opponents.
''I've been in this position before and so has this team, and they've come out and bitten us on the bum back in '08,'' Gallen said. ''That's what we have to make sure doesn't happen. That's the challenge - beating them two weeks in a row. We have to be up to it. I'm expecting them to be even more pumped. They were pretty aggressive and pretty physical and I expect them to be even more so next week.''
Gallen was also fearful of having woken a sleeping beast in five-eighth Benji Marshall, who set up two second-half tries up with trademark flick passes. The Cronulla forward believes Marshall will have gained confidence from his late theatrics.
''He's obviously going to be the key for them,'' Gallen said. ''He's the one we've got to watch. The way he finished the game, he'd be reasonably confident heading into the final. Everyone's played against him a hundred times before. We all know how good he is and what he can do. That's the challenge, to shut him down.''
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