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Valiant Kiwis do Kearney proud

Jack Brady, Staff Writer NRL.com Sat, May 03, 2014 - 12:00 AM

New Zealand prop Jesse Bromwich (centre) celebrates his side's opening try during the Trans-Tasman Test against Australia at Allianz Stadium. Copyright: Grant Trouville

Buoyed New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney appeared happy with the Kiwis' efforts despite going down to the Kangaroos 30-18 on Friday night.

Despite losing their eighth-straight match against the Australians, including last year's World Cup final where they lost 34-2, Kearney seemed pleased that his boys were able to restore a bit of pride back in the black and white jersey.

"The effort and the spirit and the energy the lads played with, I couldn't complain about that," he said.

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"I think for us, it takes us to the back end of the [World Cup] tournament last year, from our point of view and in terms of the New Zealand rugby league jumper – things didn't go so well and I guess it was important for our next outing to get some respect and pride back into our jumper and I thought the lads did that tonight. I'm certainly not disappointed."

While rumours abounded that strife had descended on the Kiwi camp, with the likes of Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank-Paul Nu'uausala and Alex Glenn not being selected for the Test, Kearney explained that his heart was set on regaining some spirit for his side to build on.

"I didn't buy into any of [the media] all week to be fair – and there was a fair bit of it. I knew we had a spirited bunch of individuals who were willing to wear the jumper with a great deal of pride and perform with a great deal of spirit and that's all my focus was on all week, and all the staff, we were all geared towards that," Kearney said.

"I wasn't trying to make any statement, I wanted to pick a team that I knew would represent our jumper as good as it could – with a great deal of spirit and energy and pride. We came up with the side that we did through injury and it was a matter of making sure that these guys did a job to do that."

While it gave his young side, which had five debutants, a chance to flex their muscles on the international stage, the Kiwis were undeniably decimated by injuries. Kearney realised his men faced a stern challenge against the world champion Kangaroos, especially considering several Kiwi players were deployed out of position.

"As selectors we jotted down a team six weeks ago – I think there's only about four players that played there tonight that were there on that list - but it gives an opportunity for some young guys to come in and show what they've got and you saw what they had tonight," Kearney said.

"We had a dummy-half (Ben Henry) going there that hasn't played dummy-half in his career, and a guy (Isaac John) that's been plucked out of reserve grade, so maybe a touch of class would've got us over the line but the amount of effort and energy that they performed with tonight gave them a great opportunity.

"I thought those young guys that come in here with no Test experience and some of them with limited first-grade experience did a really good job."