NZ aiming to avoid 'fluke' tag: Eastwood - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ aiming to avoid 'fluke' tag: Eastwood

By Steve Mascord 20/10/2009 03:34:10 PM Comments (0)

New Zealand utility Greg Eastwood says a poor Four Nations campaign by the Kiwis could see last year's World Cup triumph labelled a fluke by the rugby league world.

Missing stars such as Roy Asotasi, Taniela Tuiaki, Manu Vatuvei, Setaimata Sa, Sam Rapira and Simon Mannering, the Kiwis are only third-favourites in this month's tournament.

But Leeds-bound Eastwood says the New Zealanders must maintain their standard from their first-ever World Cup win 11 months ago.

"We set a standard for ourselves, that we can be the best in the world so we just have to keep up that standard," the former Brisbane and Bulldogs forward said.

"We can't be disappointing this year because then people will consider it a fluke or something.

"We've just got to work at being at the top again."

The video official who awarded New Zealand a penalty try in their World Cup final victory over Australia - Steve Ganson - was on Monday appointed as referee for the Kiwis' clash with the Kangaroos at Twickenham's Stoop stadium on Saturday.

Eastwood said the transition from two referees in the NRL to one in the Four Nations would slow the pace of play but should benefit New Zealand.

"There could be a bit of a difference," he said.

"With two refs, they saw a bit more - with one, he tends to miss a few things. It can go back to how it used to be and one ref will be fine with us.

"It depends on who the ref is. With two refs, the game was definitely a lot quicker this year."

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney will announce his side on Wednesday but said only bench spots remained undecided.

"I will sit down with (selector) Tony Iro and have a chat about it," he said.

Asked at the Elland Road media conference how he felt about being ranked behind Australia and England by bookmakers, Kearney said: "We're happy with that. We don't care too much for how we're ranked. We're mindful of what's ahead."

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