Sheens unveils Benji's secrets to Roos - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sheens unveils Benji's secrets to Roos

By Steve Jancetic 23/10/2009 08:32:15 PM Comments (0)

The Kangaroos have thrown club loyalties out the window in the pursuit of Four Nations success with coach Tim Sheens' dossier on New Zealand linchpin Benji Marshall at the heart of Australia's game plan to dethrone the World Cup champions on Saturday night.

Sheens has put country before club in revealing every secret in Marshall's bag of tricks to the Kangaroos touring party, the Wests Tigers coach refusing to let his NRL commitments get in the way of the national side's campaign.

His openness has been matched by other members of the squad - the Australians leaving nothing to chance as they traded tips ahead of their opening match against the Kiwis at The Stoop in London.

"All the players have given up on their own teammates and their styles, weakness and strengths, as I have," Sheens said.

"That's part of coming together as a squad.

"If you're not prepared to do that, you shouldn't be in the Australian side as a coach or as players, you shouldn't be there.

"I was pleased to see them being honest with the group.

"It wasn't 'this guy can't tackle, this guy can't do this or he's a sook' - it's nothing like that.

"It was about their strengths and weaknesses - particularly their strengths, what their dominant play was.

"No-one was bagging anyone - it was just a matter of 'look, he's got this in his game or that in his game, this is what we've got to do to offset that."

While the players were happy to share their intimate knowledge with each other, no tip sheet will be more vital to Australia's hopes on Saturday night than the one provided by Sheens on Marshall.

While the Kiwi skipper desperately needs his forwards to give him space to operate, Sheens knows Marshall is the opponent most likely to come up with the plays that could hurt the Australians like he did in last year's stunning World Cup triumph.

Marshall has been the man the Kangaroos have feared most for some years now, but having watched him develop during a tough year with the Tigers, Sheens knows the unpredictable playmaker is better placed than ever before to torment the Kangaroos.

"He really grew up a bit this year," Sheens says of Marshall.

"He had his rough spots during the season, but I think he came through 25 of 26 games, he only missed one game thanks to a cork, and he played ill at times.

"Certainly he was a more dominant player and a steadier player as well as the flick-pass player that he is.

"If their forwards gets their offloads happening, they dominate the go-forward, Marshall becomes very dominant.

"(Darren) Lockyer would be the same. Anyone with good go-forward, the halves are going to dominate the game."

Lockyer will be hoping it is he who has the opportunity to dominate with the Australian skipper to break the record he shares with former captain Mal Meninga for most Test appearances for the Kangaroos when he leads the side out against the Kiwis.

But the record is far from the forefront of Lockyer's thoughts, with restoring world order his No.1 priority.

"The last time we came here in a tournament we were beaten in a final," Lockyer said as he recalled the Kiwis' 2005 Tri-Nations triumph.

"We were beaten in the World Cup last year. I wouldn't say it's revenge but we want to win - it gives us a bit of motivation."

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