No excuses this time for New Zealand
After 15 years of misery in mid-season Tests the Kiwis aren't interested in making excuses anymore.
New Zealand have claimed victory in the annual Anzac Test only once since its inception, winning the inaugural clash in 1998 before enduring an embarrassing run of defeats.
In years gone by there were legitimate explanations around why the Kiwis struggled, including a lack of playing depth which often saw players rushed over from the Super League or relative unknowns plucked from lower grades to prop up the national side.
That trend continued until as recently as last year's mid-season match, when injuries to Issac Luke and Thomas Leuluai forced coach Stephen Kearney to call up three-game rookie Siliva Havili.
But this year is different.
The Kiwis can lay claim to some of the Telstra Premiership's form players over the opening two months, and all of the 2015 squad are there because Kearney and the selectors want them, rather than need them.
"It's about time we nip that in the bud," Leuluai said of the excuses which have accompanied previous Anzac Test defeats.
"The excuses… we should do a lot better in these games.
"There is no excuse, we have guys playing well and a lot of depth.
"It's a bit unusual compared to where we are usually [at this time of the year]… we generally picked the team about four weeks before hand."
Selector Richie Barnett, who played on the wing for the Kiwis in the 1998 victory, said the squad would be primed for Friday night's match at Suncorp Stadium.
"At times the Australians have had better time to prepare than us… there is no excuse now, they [New Zealand] are well prepared.
"The Anzac Test has always had a stigma around it that we don't perform very well.
"I believe now that we have a team that we have had consistently – I think a lot of these guys have been together for four or five years now – we are blessed with some youth and experience coming through.
"Most of the players currently are at the top of their game, if you look at plyers like Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jesse Bromwich, Ben Matulino and Simon Mannering, players of that calibre are leading the way."
A win on Friday night would be significant for another reason as well, with the Kiwis shooting for three straight victories over the Kangaroos for the first time since 1953.
According to Barnett it will also go a long way to ensuring New Zealand push past Australia as the best international team in the world right now.
"I just desperately want to win this Test, put things to bed and make history as well by beating them three games in a row," Barnett said.
"And then we have a chance of beating England over there at the end of the year to really put us at number one.
"I always believe that the next game is the most important game. This match up in my mind is going to be an absolute ripper."