Renouf won't rule out Bennett-backed NZ - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Renouf won't rule out Bennett-backed NZ

20/11/2008 07:44:51 PM Comments (0)

Former Kangaroo Steve Renouf has no doubts ex-Australian coach Wayne Bennett will be a significant factor in the Kiwi camp ahead of Saturday's rugby league World Cup final in Brisbane.

Renouf describes himself as a "big believer" in Bennett, under whom he won four premierships with Brisbane in the 1990s.

Known as The Pearl during his days as a classy centre, Renouf said the Kangaroos would go into the decider as obvious favourites.

"But you just never know in a final," he said.

"The Kiwis have a good team. They've been getting better as they've gone on in the World Cup and they have the factor of Wayne Bennett sitting there."

A World Cup winner in 1992, when he scored the only try in Australia's 10-6 victory over Great Britain in the final at Wembley, Renouf didn't play under Bennett at Test level, but did for Queensland's winning State of Origin series in 1998.

He said Bennett had a gift for knowing how to handle players for the big occasion.

"I just think he has the nous in those situations," he said.

"He knows how to talk to a team and how to prepare for a big game like that. If they listen to what he says and stick to it, they'll have no problems."

Renouf said the Kiwis' chances of success at Suncorp Stadium would depend on the ability of their forwards to match the Kangaroo pack and give their halves the chance to shine.

"If they can get on top of the two bookends, Petero Civoniceva and Steve Price, I think Benji Marshall might give them a field day outside."

An intriguing element of the match is that Civoniceva and Price are two of four survivors from the last time Australia lost to New Zealand way back in 2005.

Backrower Craig Fitzgibbon also took the field for the Kangaroos' 24-0 drubbing in the Tri-Nations final in Leeds and the result hasn't been forgotten by the quartet.

Bennett was the Australian coach that day and the defeat marked the end of his two-year second stint at the helm of the national side.

"That's going to be hard for Wayne, too, on the other side of the fence," Renouf said.

"He knows what it felt like and he's coaching against that."

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