Kangaroos ready for Kiwi ambush - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kangaroos ready for Kiwi ambush

By Steve Jancetic 21/11/2006 06:55:49 PM Comments (0)

Kangaroos backrower Luke O'Donnell says a more settled preparation will ensure the Australians don't fall victim to another Kiwi ambush in Saturday night's Tri-Nations final.

O'Donnell, one of six surviving members from the 24-0 flogging dished out by New Zealand in last year's decider, said the Kangaroos were in much better shape heading into this year's clash.

The Kangaroos were beset by injury woes heading into the 2005 final in Leeds with skipper Darren Lockyer and star halfback Andrew Johns both absent after playing earlier in the tournament.

Such was the extent of the injury crisis utility Craig Wing had to be summonsed from a Hawaiian holiday to take his place on the bench.

But there are no such worries this time around, with Matt King cleared of a calf injury, Willie Mason back on deck following a one-game ban and Lockyer playing some of the best football in his career.

"Our preparation this year has been really spot on, everyone's pretty excited," O'Donnell said.

"Having our captain right through the series has been a major factor and he's been playing some great footy.

"This is what we've worked towards the whole tournament, towards this game on Saturday night and it comes down to this 80 minutes of football - that's the exciting part I think."

While victory at Aussie Stadium on Saturday night won't make up for the disappointment of last year's defeat, O'Donnell said reliving the experience wasn't high on his list of priorities.

"We haven't talked about it as a group but for me personally you remember how it ended for us last year and you definitely don't want to revisit that again," O'Donnell said.

"But when it comes down to it you can use all the motivation in the world, but all it comes down to is 80 minutes of footy."

O'Donnell said the return of Mason would provide a massive boost to the Kangaroos pack, which will need to be at its aggressive best against a Kiwi forward line-up boasting the likes of Roy Asotasi, skipper Ruben Wiki and fiery second rower David Kidwell.

The general consensus seems to be that if the Australian forwards can hold their own against the Kiwis pack, the Kangaroos have enough of an advantage out in the backs to get the better of the Kiwis.

For his part, O'Donnell said he would need to lift his output in what will be the final game of a gruelling campaign and season.

"I've been pretty happy with the way things have been going but I don't think I've reached anywhere near my potential at this level, I'm learning still," he said.

"I'm just excited again to be playing another Test match."

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