21 Oct 2008

Cayless says Kiwis face traditional hurdle if they're not to be also rans

5:46 am on 21 October 2008

The New Zealand rugby league captain Nathan Cayless says the Kiwis are going to have to show a marked improvement in their performances at international level if they're going to be a world cup threat.

Cayless says traditionally the problem has been Kiwis side have failed to play the full 80 minutes petering out after 60 or so and that is going to be the biggest hurdle for the team to again overcome.

New Zealand and Australia square off in Sydney on Sunday after the official opening ceremony although the tournament actually starts in Townsville on Saturday night when England play Papua New Guinea.

Australia start the month-long tournament as overwhelming favourites to retain the title although Kangaroos skipper Darren Lockyer is predicting the tournament will be the toughest in several years.

The Kangaroos haven't played any warm-up games but the Kiwis completed a 10-try rout over Tonga at the weekend.

England and Papua New Guinea complete New Zealand and Australia's pool with the top three teams qualifying for the finals.