Kiwis want more than glimpses from Benji - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis want more than glimpses from Benji

By Wayne Heming 19/11/2008 08:51:39 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney isn't pinning all his World Cup final plans on Benji Marshall but he is hoping the playmaker can turn on more of his magic on Saturday night.

Ever since he emerged as a schoolboy star, Marshall has been capable of conjuring brilliant and breathtaking rugby league moments.

Ricky Stuart's Kangaroos privately fear the five eighth has been working up to something out-of-the-box that could spark the Kiwis to repeat their 2005 Tri Nations series final upset over the Kangaroos in England.

Rank outsiders at $6 to win against Australia's $1.11 and given 18.5 points start by bookmakers, the Kiwis desperately need Marshall to not only provide attacking spark at Suncorp Stadium but also a consistent, low-error performance.

Kearney was downplaying the pressure on Marshall on Wednesday.

But he conceded the 23-year-old was capable of turning it on if his forwards laid a strong platform for Marshall and halfback Nathan Fien to work off.

"He's shown glimpses," said Kearney.

"What we'd like from Benji is for him to string that kind of form together for 80 minutes.

"I'm relying on the 16 other players.

"The forwards know if they can build a platform for the likes of Benji and Fieny to work off the back of, we give ourselves a good chance.

"I hope for Benji's sake he does.

"He's the sort of player who can do something special.

"We're well aware of that and I'm sure so are Australia."

Kearney, who named an unchanged line-up on Wednesday, said his kickers would aim to keep the ball away from Australian fullback Billy Slater, named the International Rugby League's inaugural player of the year on Monday.

"You put the ball anywhere near Billy and he hurts you," said Kearney, who helps to coach Slater at the Melbourne Storm.

"Fien's kicking was a pleasing aspect of last week's performance (against England).

"It's going to be a little more difficult for him this time because they have a couple of guys in (Cameron) Smith and (Steve) Price who put kick pressure on so we need the other kickers we have in the group to take some pressure off him."

Kearney also said a bold start against Australia was "critical".

"It's absolutely crucial given the way Australia has started the last five Test matches they played," he said.

"You go back to the Centenary Test (earlier this year) and ever since them they've jumped out to a very solid start.

"It's always hard when you find yourself under pressure in those situations.

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