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Kiwis not kidding themselves says Benji

Laine Clark and Wayne Heming 02/05/2011 01:55:20 PM Comments (0)

They may have raided Australia's trophy cabinet but New Zealand would be kidding themselves if they thought they were better than the Kangaroos, captain Benji Marshall says.

The Kiwis could lay claim to favouritism for Friday night's Test on the Gold Coast after making a habit of stealing the limelight from Australia on rugby league's biggest stage.

They are World Cup champions and will defend their Four Nations crown later this year, having beaten the Kangaroos in those finals in 2008 and 2010 respectively.

But Marshall hinted New Zealand could only start claiming bragging rights once they regularly claimed victory over Australia, including the annual mid-year Test.

"They (Australia) have been the benchmark for international footy for the last 10 years," Marshall said at Skilled Park on Monday.

"If we thought we were better than them we would be kidding ourselves.

"We haven't won an Anzac Test for 13 years and in Australia we haven't won one at all.

"So it is going to be a big challenge.

"With Johnathan Thurston back there (at halfback), Darren Lockyer in great form, Billy Slater the fullback of the year in my mind, they are going to be tough to beat."

While Wests Tigers star Marshall could not put his finger on the reason for New Zealand's mid-year Test drought, coach Stephen Kearney nominated Australia's stability and combinations.

"You look at the Australian side and they've got 13 Queenslanders in the 17," Kearney said.

"Half of them are in the backline and they have played State of Origin together for the past five or six years.

"The challenge for us is to build that same level of consistency in our selection.

"Benji's been part of that plan because he hasn't had too many injuries the last few years and that has been a real bonus."

The Kiwis have retained 13 of their 2010 champion Four Nations team, with Frank Paul Nuuausala dropped after indifferent form, Thomas Leuluai notflown back from England and Sika Manu and Sam Perrett injured.

"We have been building combinations nicely over the years, and it's nice not having to change that too often," Marshall said.

"We are comfortable with each other - that goes a long way towards building a structure for the team."

Meanwhile, Marshall said the Kiwis' thoughts would be with the people of earthquake-hit Christchurch, the city originally scheduled to host this week's Test.

"About 200 people affected at Christchurch are coming over for the game and I think 200 from flood-affected areas in Queensland are coming," he said.

"We've had our tragedies in both countries and it is a shame, but they will be in the back of our minds."

The Kiwis arrived on the Gold Coast on Sunday night and began a packed lead-up with their first training session on Monday.

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