Lockyer wary of improved Kiwis - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lockyer wary of improved Kiwis

By Steve Jancetic 22/11/2008 12:51:19 PM Comments (0)

Australian skipper Darren Lockyer believes New Zealand will provide more formidable opposition in Saturday night's World Cup final than they offered in the tournament opener.

The Australians were rarely threatened in crushing the Kiwis 32-6, setting the Kangaroos on a path of destruction through the preliminary rounds.

New Zealand rebounded to win their next three matches, including two consecutive victories over England, a run Lockyer believes could have the Kiwis primed for an upset win in the final.

"Since the first game when we won pretty easily they've come a long way the Kiwis," Lockyer said.

"We've improved but I think the Kiwis have improved more than we have." New Zealand haven't beaten their trans Tasman rivals since their famous 24-0 victory in the Tri-Nations final in 2005, but coach Stephen Kearney denied that match would have any relevance on Saturday night's result.

"There's some positive things which certainly can come out of that but we haven't deliberately used any of them," Kearney said.

"We're very much about what we need to do (Saturday) night." The Kangaroos head into the game as heavy favourites to win their seventh straight World Cup despite a pair of injury setbacks this week that ruled out brothers-in-law Steve Price and Brent Tate.

Tate was replaced by David Williams after failing to overcome a hip flexor injury while Price broke down with a torn calf at Australia's final training session, coach Ricky Stuart still to make a decision on his replacement.

Lock Paul Gallen is expected to play after overcoming a corked thigh.

The weather will be a factor with the weather bureau forecasting winds of 90km/h and possible hail for the kick-off (8pm AEST).

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