With just five days to until the Rugby League World Cup Final at Old Trafford, RLWC2013.com spoke with several stars of the Kangaroos pack to get their thoughts ahead of the big occasion.
Corey Parker admitted the players did not see the game unfold before their own Semi-Final clash with Fiji, as New Zealand recorded a stunning last-gasp win over England to book their place at Old Trafford.
“I’ve only been able to catch the highlights of the game, but it was a contest, wasn’t it? Footy can be a fickle game at times, and maybe the English guys are cursing their luck,” Parker told RLWC2013.com
“But full credit to the Kiwis. They didn’t stop and they got their rewards right at the death there, and they should provide a tough contest on Saturday.”
But Parker doesn’t believe the Kangaroos would have been better prepared had they been challenged by Fiji, who they coasted past with an 11-try performance.
“You can only play the cards you’re dealt, and although the scoreline didn’t flatter Fiji they certainly turned up and had a go physically.
“The game prior to us was an epic, but we’ve all faced similar game throughout this competition, and England had us on the rack in that first game.
“But it’s down to 80 minutes on Saturday.”
Parker’s team-mate in the pack Greg Bird says he was delighted that the team were able to stretch their phenomenal defensive record to four games, after they shut out the Bati at Wembley.
But he concedes that Saturday’s opponents will make the Australian defence sweat to guard their goal line.
“It’s a great source of pride for us. We did struggle a bit against England in that area so it’s something we’ve really focused on since then.
“We have pride in our defence and want to be the best in that area. We always knew we could score points, but defending is always hard, especially when you’re fatigued.
“We’re not expecting to continue it this weekend against the Kiwis, as I know they’ll throw absolutely everything at us,” Parked added.
“A lot depends on the conditions. If it starts raining then it could get tight, but either way it’s going to be tight on the scoreboard and a great game.”
Meanwhile, James Tamou says he is relishing the opportunity to play at Old Trafford, following Kangaroos fixtures at the Millennium Stadium and Wembley Stadium at RLWC2013.
“It’s my very first time in the UK and my very first time playing in a Rugby League World Cup, so to be having this conversation ahead of a Final is extremely exciting.
“It’s a bit tough with the weather sometimes, but the atmospheres we’ve played in front of have been fantastic.
“It’ll definitely be a highlight of my career to play at Old Trafford. I’ve heard all about the history of the ground, and just to be playing there will be unreal.
“I won’t forget it in a hurry, whether we win or lose.”
Also competing in his first Rugby League World Cup is Josh Papalii, and the youngster admits the chance to erase the memories of the Kangaroos’ defeat to New Zealand at the same stage five years ago is one he is relishing.
“I was still at school when the last Final was being played, and to be honest I don’t remember watching it, but I know it’s still big for the fans.
“There are a few players in the squad who played in the game, but it isn’t mentioned much by those guys, if at all.
“It’s five years down the line now and a different squad completely. We have our own goals and our own gameplan, so there’s not too much looking back.
“It would mean heaps to be named in the team for this one though, and be a part of the team that hopefully puts it all right.”