Historic win could help league rival union - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Historic win could help league rival union

Laine Clark 14/11/2010 12:56:18 PM Comments (0)

Forget bridging the gap between New Zealand and big brother Australia.

The Kiwis reckon their incredible 16-12 Four Nations rugby league victory over the Kangaroos could pave the way for the 13-man code to threaten their national sport in New Zealand.

It's a big call - then again the New Zealand rugby league team has a habit of proving people wrong.

The Kiwis' last gasp Suncorp Stadium triumph on Saturday night added to their giant-killing ways.

They have now added the 2010 Four Nations trophy to their 2005 Tri-Nations and 2008 World Cup triumphs - all at the Kangaroos' expense.

So who is anyone to doubt Kiwi skipper Benji Marshall when he says they could claim their biggest scalp yet - rugby.

"We expect so much from ourselves now," Marshall said.

"We have to grow our game there (in New Zealand).

"We have a long way to go to catch up to rugby union but with a win like this, it definitely helps."

Another encouraging sign was more than 44,000 fans packing traditional rugby stronghold Eden Park for last week's trans-Tasman Four Nations clash.

But the Kiwis thought they had done more harm than good when they went down 34-20 in the biggest league clash at Eden Park since the 1988 World Cup final.

It had been as a major coup for league to host a clash at Auckland's re-developed Eden Park - headquarters for the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Yet the match was marred by unsavoury incidents such as bottles being thrown at Australian players and crowd violence.

Not to mention the scoreline, which was flattered by some late Marshall-inspired Kiwi tries.

"I am interested in what it does for our game back home," Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said of their shock Four Nations final victory.

"You can see what it means for these guys, playing for themselves, playing for their jumper.

"But we also have the New Zealand Rugby League doing a great job growing the game.

"We had 44,000 at Eden Park last week, that wasn't a fluke."

Despite their success, Kearney still believed New Zealand had not overtaken Australia as rugby league's superpower.

"There is still a gap between us, we are slowly taking steps to close it," he said.

"For us it is an ongoing process.

"We don't have the depth that the Australians do.

"It will always be a work in progress for us.

"But we showed (on Saturday night) that the gap is not that far if we get it right.

"That's the challenge for us."

Kearney admitted the Kiwis received a major wake-up call at Eden Park.

"Last week caught us off guard - we were getting a little carried away with ourselves," he said.

"The games previous didn't harden us for the intensity that Australia showed last week.

"But (on Saturday night) we showed what we are capable of."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news