Kiwis focus on attack
The pressure is on the Kiwis to fix their misfiring attack as they attempt to lock up a place in the Four Nations final. With England needing to upset Australia in their final round-robin match, the Kiwis can put one foot in next week’s decider at Anfield with a big victory over Scotland in Workington on Saturday. If England do manage to stun the Kangaroos on Monday, the finalists are likely to be determined by points difference, with the Kiwis currently 30 points behind the hosts and 53 adrift of the Aussies. While New Zealand should be far too good for the winless Scots, it does put the focus on their attack, which has come nowhere close to clicking in four tests this year. They showed glimpses of improvement in the 17-16 win over England but took a step back during last week’s sixpoint defeat to Australia and have generally struggled for cohesion with the ball.
“In the last couple of tests, execution has really disappointed us,” fullback Jordan Kahu said. “A few mistakes have led to missed opportunities so we’ve just been working on all that kind of stuff and making sure everyone’s at the right place at the right time. “We know if we can all gel and make sure that we’re playing at the best then we’ll be fine whoever we come up against.”
The Kiwis’ situation has created a selection dilemma for coach David Kidwell.
Five of the 24-man touring party has yet to play a game - James Fisher- Harris, Joseph Tapine, Te Maire Martin, David Fusitu’a and Dallin Watene-Zelezniak - while Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Jason Nightingale both trained fully on Wednesday and could come into consideration after sitting out last week through injury.
Following two bruising encounters with England and Australia, Kidwell may well want to rotate his players, although he runs the risk of disrupting the combinations that have been building over the last month.
But Kahu has full faith in the fringe players to step up if required. “They obviously deserve a shot. They’ve been pushing us at training and making sure we’re fighting for our positions,” he added. “But I know if Scotland were coming to New Zealand, we’d definitely put our best team on the park.” Meanwhile, Scotland coach Steve McCormack has warned the Kiwis to expect a hostile reception at Derwent Park with both Scottish and English supporters desperate to see them go down.
“It will be a fantastic atmosphere at Workington,” McCormack told the Evening Express. “They will come out and pack that ground and they will want to see Scotland do well.
“There’s a lot of proud Englishmen in west Cumbria as well so they’ll want the Kiwis to get beat. I’m sure there’ll be lots of Englishmen supporting the Scots. That’s what we need.” - Stuff