Gallen talks down Test slugfest - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Gallen talks down Test slugfest

By Todd Balym and Tom Wald 05/05/2008 07:38:15 PM Comments (0)

He had freedom to go "wild" on debut for NSW but rookie Paul Gallen insists Australia's enforcers can't afford to turn Friday's Centenary Test with New Zealand into a slugfest.

Gallen and North Queensland hardman Carl Webb will make their Test debuts in an Australian side boasting noted big-hitters Willie Mason, Greg Bird and Michael Crocker.

But Gallen, who along with `bash brother' Bird wreaked havoc for NSW last year, says Australia's favouritism to smash the Kiwis on the scoreboard means they can't afford to use vigilante tactics in the Test at the SCG.

"I don't think anyone will be out there picking fights, but I don't think either side will be taking a backward step anywhere," said Gallen.

"It's going to be a good, hard, tough game.

"I think Origin was a bit different, we had lost the series already and didn't have anything to lose so we could go out there and be a little bit wild. But this game there is a lot to lose."

The presence of five enforcers was noted by New Zealand on Monday as the two teams had a commemorative photos taken at the SCG, skipper Roy Asotasi insisting his side can match the Australians' expected physicality.

"We have the same firepower too," said Asotasi.

"We have Sonny Bill Williams and Frank Pritchard and those are guys who can do the same thing.

"The game of rugby league is a very dominant game. They have guys who are very dominant and that is something we have to focus on.

"We expect Australia to come out and rip straight into us and we will give it back to them."

Late inclusion Crocker, added when skipper Darren Lockyer was ruled out with a knee injury, is comfortable carrying the enforcer role into the Test.

"That's alright. There's some bigger boys out there in our team that will step up to that challenge as well," he said.

"Both sides will come out all guns blazing."

Kiwi superstar Williams however says his side must focus on using brains and not brawn if they're to inflict an upset on the Australians.

"I like to think our guys have a bit more brains than that ... we are not going in there with that frame of mind," said Williams.

Australia won the last clash 58-0 in Wellington last October and the Kiwis are desperate to restore some pride in the black jumper this week.

They have a new coach, Stephen Kearney, and have made several changes to the side belted by Australia but still nobody could guarantee there wouldn't be a repeat of last year's flogging.

"You cannot guarantee that, all you can do is go out and do your best," said prop Nathan Cayless.

"Something we have already spoken about is restoring pride in the black jersey.

"It is about restoring some credibility and respect and we are all aware of that."

However halfback Ben Roberts insists the thrashing was an aberration, with most overlooking the fact Steve Matai was sent off after just 24 minutes.

He also noted the return of matchwinner Williams, who missed last year's Test and the doomed tour of Great Britain.

"That is something we plan on never happening again. That is not the New Zealand spirit everyone knows and we're looking to redeem ourselves," said Roberts.

"Sonny has got the ability to change a game by himself. We look forward to playing with him in the side and we have a few other boys as well in this side that didn't play last year.

"We can go into this game with no pressure and the boys will look forward to that."

The Australians are indeed wary of the Williams factor and won't underestimate his influence, or that of fellow backrower Pritchard.

"Sonny Bill is one of the best players in competition if not the world," said Gallen.

"And Frank Pritchard, when he turns it on he can be anything, so it is going to be a good battle there."

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