Kiwis ready to use grunt up front
UNDERDOGS New Zealand might have lost their past five meetings with Australia and are without the strike power of injured stars Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams, but the Kiwis insist they’re up for the challenge and ready to “bash” the Kangaroos in Canberra this Friday night.
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Stephen Kearney’s men last recorded a victory against Australia in 2010 but they are confident of an upset on the back of a game-plan that aims to batter and bruise their opponents.
“I think we’ve got to go through with our big forwards,” powerful prop Jesse Bromwich told Big League. “Obviously we’ve got a really good forward pack, I reckon, and [we plan on] going through the middle with our big boys.
“We’re prepared for a very tough game but expect us to come through the middle. Obviously Australia are a very good team and it’s going to be very hard to beat them.
“They’ve got a good forward pack too, but our strength is definitely our forwards.”
Bromwich and his big Kiwi team-mates have a huge battle on their hands meeting the likes of James Tamou, Matt Scott and Paul Gallen, but it’s a challenge he feels his team is capable of meeting – particularly considering the form of his country’s fearsome forwards.
“The boys have been playing very good,” Bromwich said of the New Zealand pack. “[Jared Waerea-] Hargreaves has been playing out of his skin and Benny’s [Ben Matulino] always playing well and Sam McKendry’s been playing well too. There’s a lot of competition in the forwards and that’s really good for the New Zealand team.”
The two-time Test representative, a Manurewa Marlins junior, has been in outstanding form at club level. The 113-kilogram, 194-centimetre giant has averaged almost 110 metres and 24 tackles a game so far this season. It’s an ominous sign for the Kangaroos, with Bromwich agreeing he’s getting better with age.
“(Storm team-mates) big Jason Ryles and Bryan Norrie say stuff like that… it looks like it must be true,” Bromwich, 23, said. “I’m getting older, getting more game time and I’ve played a few games now. That all helps, but running hard is the main thing.”
Bromwich said despite a lack of ‘insider info’ on his Melbourne team-mates-turned-Australian enemies – halfback Cooper Cronk, hooker Cameron Smith and fullback Billy Slater – his team will do whatever’s required to limit their impact and win the Test.
“Playing with the ‘big three’ each week I’m not too sure what their weaknesses are,” Bromwich said. “It’s going to be a big job but we’re up for it!”