Kiwis fired up after award dinner 'snub' - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis fired up after award dinner 'snub'

By Wayne Heming 18/11/2008 05:49:57 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand's burning desire to spring another massive upset over Australia has been further fuelled by what the World Cup underdogs believe was a snub of their former greats at a gala awards dinner.

The New Zealand camp left the Rugby League International Federation's inaugural awards dinner at Suncorp Stadium on Monday disappointed with their official involvement in rugby league's big night.

While Australian greats Wally Lewis, Mal Meninga, Allan Langer and Ricky Stuart were joined on stage by former England stars Malcolm Reilly and Mike Stephenson to present awards to players voted the best in their positions, New Zealand's past champions could not get a look in.

The Kiwis, while supporting the new awards, felt someone like recently retired captain Ruben Wiki, who played a record 50 Tests, should have been asked to make one of the presentations to fly New Zealand's flag on a night which was about recognising the game globally.

Blockbusting Warriors winger Manu Vatuvei was the only New Zealand player to make the RLIF's Team of the Year, dominated by seven members of Stuart's Kangaroos.

The Kiwis kept their focus firmly on the job of repeating their stunning 2005 Tri Nations final upset over Australia.

They were not commenting on reports they felt they'd been overlooked by award organisers.

But sources within the camp said it was poor form none of their former players were used as presenters.

No doubt the Kiwis will use the snub as further motivation against Australia with coach Stephen Kearney and his assistant Wayne Bennett pushing the siege mentality line leading into the final.

Between them Kearney, through his coaching under Melbourne's Craig Bellamy, and Bennett with the Broncos, know the minds and games of just about every player in the Australia side.

"Stephen does a lot of research on opposition players and he's a very passionate bloke about playing for his country and that feeds onto his players who enjoy playing for him," said Australian hooker Cameron Smith.

Bennett is famed for getting the best out of players in the biggest matches.

The pundits and bookmakers give New Zealand little hope of winning, but after losing the 2005 Tri-Nations decider 24-0 to the Kiwis, Australia know better.

"They're a lot stronger side than we beat in the first game and they've improved as the tournament has progressed," said Smith.

"You only have to look back a few years (2005) when everyone said Australia was going to be unbeatable and there was not a side in the world that could beat them yet they got touched up 24-0.

"While we're aware we've beaten them once already in this tournament (30-6) we know it's going to be a totally different story on Saturday."

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