Former coach says Kiwis believe
Former New Zealand coach Brian McClennan has urged the current Kiwi team to convert the momentum from last weekend's win over the Kangaroos into a Four Nations tournament victory.
The New Zealanders have never won the end-of-season tournament – under its current guise or as the former Tri Nations Series – after losing their opening game.
Titles in 2005 and 2010 followed first-up victories over Australia and England respectively, suggesting that the 30-12 win over the Kangaroos last Saturday might mean more than just two points on the tournament tally.
It had been nine long years since New Zealand had opened a tournament with a victory over the green and gold; back then England competed as Great Britain and McClennan was the Kiwi coach.
According to McClennan – who has since served as head coach of both the Leeds Rhinos and Warriors – opening with a win is crucial to the Kiwi mind set.
"Winning the first game gave us a belief in what we were doing and that it worked," McClennan told NRL.com.
"It also confirmed that our philosophy as a group and how we prepared worked; it really helped us going forward.
"When we got to play in the final [in 2005] we had a lot of confidence that we could do the job.
"I think a good start to a tournament is vital. I am really pleased for the Kiwis, they played a different style the other night and got some rewards from it
"If they can improve on that they are going to become a hard team to beat"
Ahead of Saturday's clash with Samoa in Whangarei the Kiwi camp were doing their best to deflect any hype surrounding their demolition of the world-champion Kangaroos at Suncorp Stadium.
"We are not dwelling on the win and are always striving to improve our game. I think the boys have done that, the preparation has been really good this week," said second-rower Kevin Proctor.
"Focus on this weekend's game and let that one get past us [is the message]."
The Kiwis should have no trouble getting motivated for the clash.
They face a Samoan side who came agonisingly close to pulling off one of the biggest international upsets of all time last week, before eventually losing 32-26 to England in what was the narrowest losing margin in the tournament's history for a fourth-seeded nation.
A win will also guarantee the Kiwis a spot in the November 15 final in Wellington.
"I think their whole team is pretty good, even their backs; BJ Leilua, (Tim) Simona and Benny Roberts, they have been going really well," Proctor said.
"I think they are pretty dangerous and we have got to be on our game this week.
"Hopefully we can take that home ground advantage into the game this weekend. I am sure it will be good, it will be a good little crowd and the atmosphere will be good."
Meanwhile fullback Peta Hiku, who is set to earn his third Test cap on Saturday, said the squad's younger players were riding the wave that comes with beating Australia.
"I think it drives us young ones to do a bit more than we usually would," 21-year-old Hiku said.
"The senior players say it's a good feeling [winning a final], that's something we would like to feel at the end of the competition.
"Hopefully we get the 'w' at the end of the tournament."