NZ change haka, have no excuses - Benji - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

NZ change haka, have no excuses - Benji

Laine Clark 11/11/2010 04:29:10 PM Comments (0)

Reverting to their traditional haka will ensure there are "no excuses" for New Zealand in Saturday night's Four Nations final against Australia, Kiwi skipper Benji Marshall says.

As Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens asked Australian fans not to "get square" and boo the Kiwi anthem at Suncorp Stadium, Marshall said New Zealand had also looked closely at the pre-match ceremony in their bid to topple their great rivals.

Marshall said New Zealand had decided to go back to their "Ka Mate" ritual after the new challenge used last week proved more trouble than it was worth.

The Kiwi playmaker admitted his teammates were more worried about perfecting their epic 24-man "Ko Wai Ra" haka than taking on Australia last week at Eden Park.

And it showed - Australia burst out of the blocks before rolling a disappointing New Zealand 34-20 in front of a rabid Eden Park crowd.

"We will be doing the normal one that we usually do," Marshall said on Thursday.

"A lot of the boys admitted that because it was a new haka (last weekend) and we had just learned it that they were focusing on doing the haka right when their focus should have been on playing well.

"We have gone back to the normal haka and now there are no excuses."

The man credited with inspiring New Zealand's shock 2008 World Cup win - Wayne Bennett - said this week that the new haka had also taken an emotional toll on the Kiwis.

But Marshall balked at the notion it had been a factor at Eden Park.

"I don't think so. It is a traditional thing that they used to do before wars so it can't take out too much energy," he said.

"For us we love doing it and it really fires us up.

"That's why we get in a huddle afterwards to settle down a little bit and re-focus on what we have to do."

The new haka only seemed to fire up the Australians at Eden Park, prompting ugly crowd scenes.

After booing the Australian anthem, the Kiwi crowd resorted to throwing bottles at the Kangaroos as they piled on the points.

But Sheens hoped the Australian fans did not boo the Kiwi anthem on Saturday night as payback.

"I would ask them (Aussie fans) to show plenty of respect (during the Kiwi anthem) but I would also like when our anthem is on to let the Kiwis know who they are supporting," he said.

"I don't think we want to turn this into a get square thing.

"They (Kiwi fans last week) were very passionate (but) booing the anthem is a bit tough.

"I know the Kiwis, the officials and their players, are embarrassed about it too - they were disappointed with what happened."

Australian skipper Darren Lockyer said his side would also show plenty of respect for the haka.

Reminded that they had advanced on the Kiwis during the ritual ahead of the 2008 World Cup final, Lockyer said: "Yeah, and we got beaten that night."

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