6 May 2009

Kiwis the underdogs despite World Cup win

8:04 am on 6 May 2009

Despite winning the World Cup in Brisbane last November, the Kiwis rugby league coach coach Stephen Kearney believes his men will again be underdogs for Friday night's ANZAC Test at Suncorp Stadium.

The Kiwis are without a victory in the one-off trans-Tasman clash in 11 years and their preparations for the match could hardly have begun worse with forward Frank Pritchard ruled out through injury and influential hooker Issac Luke in danger of being suspended following a striking charge in the weekend's NRL action.

Melbourne's Sika Manu has been called into New Zealand's 18-man squad which also has fellow forward Jeremy Smith in doubt with an ankle injury.

Kearney says they haven't won a Test in Australia and the average score in the last five Tests has been 36-12, so it doesn't sound to him that they should be the hunted.

Kearney will guide his side without the help of veteran coach Wayne Bennett but is still in regular contact with his World Cup assistant.

He says Bennett was wonderful for all of them last year but it's a real opportunity for them to push forward, and he says Bennett instilled a few things within the group which he's sure will take them forward to Friday night.