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Kangaroos forwards urged to stand tall

LONDON 23/10/2009 08:09:00 AM Comments (0)

Coach Tim Sheens says the pressure is on the Kangaroos forwards to stand up and be counted against a monster New Zealand pack in Saturday night's Four Nations rugby league clash at The Stoop in west London.

Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney has a massive side featuring Melbourne prop Adam Blair at lock in a starting scrum which also features Jeff Lima and Parramatta juggernaut Fuifui Moimoi.

With Frank Pritchard and Bronson Harrison in the backrow and Frank-Paul Nuuausala on the bench, size won't be a problem for the World Cup holders.

All the focus in the lead-up to the tournament opener has been on whether the Kiwis can contain an Australian backline featuring the likes of Greg Inglis, Jarryd Hayne and Billy Slater, but Sheens said the Kangaroos would only go as far in the tournament as their forwards took them.

"It's a strong forward pack - you can pick straight away what they're going to try to do," Sheens said of the Kiwis.

"They're going to come at us in that area. If the backline's our strength the forward pack is theirs.

"We'll give as good as we get, that's the challenge for our forward pack - to stand up and be recognised as part of the team and not have the focus on the backline all day.

"The backs will score the points but if we're going to win these games, it will be the forwards - what they do offensively and defensively - that will make the difference."

Sheens said the Kiwis would benefit from the two extra interchanges on offer in international rugby league, with coaches allowed to make 12 changes in Test matches compared to just ten in the NRL.

That could make the likes of Moimoi and Lima even more dangerous, with each likely to gain an extra breather for what will be shorter and potentially more destructive spells on the field.

The Australians on the other hand have just the three specialist props in starting duo Petero Civoniceva and Ben Hannant along with Brett White on the bench, with Sheens indicating Brisbane backrower Sam Thaiday would see time up front.

"You can do that with 12 interchanges," Sheens said of New Zealand's extra beef up front.

"You can pick bigger men and probably get away with it for a while because those extra two interchanges make a huge difference.

"He's going to try and dominate us there there's no doubt about that, you can see that with the size of their team.

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