Kiwi coach jumps to forwards' defence - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwi coach jumps to forwards' defence

28/10/2008 09:21:22 PM Comments (0)

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney has sprung to the defence of his pack that was outplayed by Australia's pensioner prop Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price in their World Cup opener.

The New Zealanders missed the punch of retired veteran Ruben Wiki, the injured pair - captain Roy Asotasi and rank Pritchard - as well as Sonny Bill Williams in the 30-6 loss in Sydney last Sunday.

The Kiwis, however, believe they did exceptionally well to restrict Australia to 30 points on the scoreboard, given the mountain of defence they were forced into because of poor early ball security and ill-discipline.

"I thought our forward pack did a wonderful job the other night given the amount of tackling they had to do they really stood up," said Kearney.

"There are aspects we can improve and we'll be looking to do that this week.

"But I thought overall the forward group did a great job.

"The guys coming off the bench did a wonderful job for us and as a forward pack that's some real momentum to take into this weekend's game.

New Zealand will need to bounce back hard against Papua New Guinea who surprised everyone with their brave display against England in Townsville.

"From watching them play England we know they're going to be a very committed side and we are not on the Gold Coast for a holiday," said Kearney.

Kearney was stunned by suggestions he may shift Benji Marshall from five-eighth to halfback to inject some variety into the Kiwi attack

"Not in my side," said Kearney almost in disbelief at such a question.

Kearney, however, may make a change to his halves with Thomas Leuluai's position at halfback under threat.

"We'll have to make a couple of little adjustments in attack and who we have in the squad," he said.

"Without giving too much away, we're looking to change a few things in our attack."

The Kiwis will have to make one forced change with injured centre Steve Matai suspended and forward Sika Manu (facial cut) in doubt.

Matai had scans on his shoulder, hand and wrist while Manu and Sam Perrett sat out training at Carrara Stadium.

"We're waiting see how a couple of guys pull up after training today and there could be a possibility of a change or two," said Kearney.

South Sydney hooker Issac Luke is likely to force his way into the side against the Kumuls.

"He was a good chance last week but the important thing we spoke about as a group was doing what's best for the side," explained Kearney.

"The side we took in against Australia last week was the best side for that week.

"Things might change this week. Everyone's a chance this week."

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