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They have lost just three matches to New Zealand in the last 17 games, but Kangaroos captain Darren Lockyer admits the Australians are no longer the dominating force in Rugby League.

The three games that the Kiwis have managed to beat Australia in the last 17 encounters have all been in finals.

The Kiwis are the reigning Four Nations and World Cup Champions and Lockyer says the Kangaroos have an almighty battle ahead of them if they are to wrest supremacy back from their trans-Tasman rivals.

“Last year the Kiwis were too good in the final,” Lockyer said.

“They are the champs and we are the challengers, we will have to prepare really well and work extremely hard to beat them.”

Australia and New Zealand clash at AusGrid Stadium on Sunday, before departing for England where they will face-off in the opening round of the Four Nations Tournament on Friday, October 28.

If results go as predicted, the traditional rivals will meet in the final at Elland Road in Leeds, meaning they will clash three times in the space of five weeks.

Traditionally New Zealand sides have struggled in one-off games against Australia, but have revelled in tournaments where they can build their combinations and momentum.

 “It will be extremely hard, it is almost like a State of Origin series over five weeks,” Lockyer said.

“There a team over the last four or five years, probably ever since the World Cup Final, they have come along in leaps and bounds and they have a lot of belief.

“Australia used to dominate International football but I think those days are long gone.

“For us to win we have to really dig deep.”