Internationals Tri-Nations coaches play it cool at launch

warriors4life_old

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From www.nzherald.co.nz

By Michael Brown

As far as firing the first shots went, Muhammad Ali would have been shaking his head in disappointment.

In town yesterday alongside Ruben Wiki, Adrian Morley and Craig Fitzgibbon to launch the New Zealand leg of this year's Tri Nations, Brian McClennan and Ricky Stuart were impeccably well behaved and left the jousting sticks they used leading up to this year's Anzac Test at home.

They said the right things, were complimentary to their opposition and even had a chat afterwards like long-lost school friends.

Perhaps McClennan had learned from his experience in Brisbane and perhaps Stuart feels more comfortable on home soil, but the fact this year's series is looming as arguably the most even yet, would make going on the offensive a dangerous tactic.

The Kiwis caused a much-needed revival in the international game after their stunning 24-0 win over Australia in last year's Tri Nations final and, although some of the momentum was lost when they were put to the sword by Australia at Brisbane in May, international rugby league is at its healthiest for some time.

To level the playing field even more, the Kangaroos are facing up to life without a handful of some of their biggest stars.

Andrew Johns and Ben Kennedy have both retired from international rugby league, Danny Buderus, who was man-of-the-match in Brisbane this year, has an exemption from the tournament for the impending birth of his first child and fullback Anthony Minichiello won't be back in time from injury.

"It's a new era in Australian football and there will be a lot of new faces in important positions," Kangaroos coach Stuart said. "Johns and Buderus are two players who have given Australia an edge for a number of years. But it's now a new era with younger players coming through."

McClennan wouldn't have been feeling too sorry for his Australian counterpart, however, considering the list of possible replacements would be enough to make any coach salivate. Thurston, Orford, Gower and Cronk in the halves and Priddis, Smith, and Farah at hooker - you certainly can't say there's no depth in Australia.

For his part, McClennan has only one player unavailable at this stage, although he's probably expecting a few calls from NRL and UK Super League club doctors alerting him to players who require off-season surgery before the Tri Nations starts.

"Everyone is available except for Benji Marshall," McClennan declared. "We will have to monitor Roy Asotasi [knee] and Nathan Cayless [eye socket] and hopefully they will be okay to play for the clubs first and foremost."

For league fans in this country starved of internationals, they will be dished up a relative feast in October and November, considering it's the first time since 1989 New Zealand has hosted a three-test tour. The series kicks off against Australia in Auckland on October 14, before heading to Christchurch and Wellington as well as Sydney and Brisbane.

"How exciting is that?" McClennan enthused about playing three tests on home soil. "It will be important for us to compete in front of our own crowd because it doesn't happen often."

Nor does beating Australia, but last year showed they're not invincible and McClennan knows the best statements are made out on the field.
 

Northern_Union

Guest
Geez i'm looking forward to the tri nations. Me and a few others are going to the Jade game against the GB team and me and the mrs are going to the Kiwi's match against the NZ residents in Greymouth.
Anyone else from the south going to that Greymouth game?
 

*Kimmy*_old

Guest
I'm so excited lol..hope we smash ricky stuart's team into the ground!!..yeah then theres GB..lol..
 

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