Kangaroos not expecting any NZ scars
There's a new coach and six new faces in the New Zealand team so Kangaroos forward Sam Thaiday doesn't believe that Australia can claim any mental stranglehold ahead of Saturday's Test at Perth's nib Stadium.
Although New Zealand remain the No.1-ranked rugby league nation the Kangaroos exacted some revenge for their 2015 defeat in Brisbane by inflicting a 16-0 shut-out in Newcastle in May.
Five players who appeared for Australia that night are not part of Mal Meninga's 24-man Four Nations squad this time around while the Kiwis have made six changes and, most notably, brought in David Kidwell to replace Stephen Kearney as coach, Kearney stepping aside after 41 matches across an eight-year period.
Solomone Kata, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreves and Jordan Rapana have all been named in the New Zealand 17 having not taken part in the trans-Tasman Test with the Australians still to confirm their team for Saturday.
Prior to the Newcastle Test the Kiwis had won their past three matches against the Kangaroos but Thaiday is adamant that the result of this Test won't be influenced by those of the most recent past.
"That was a long time ago. Totally different squad, totally different coach," Thaiday said.
"You can take little things out of that but there's not overly too much.
"It's always a different team come these Four Nations tournaments and come this game on Saturday."
With Jared Waerea-Hargreaves set to play his first Test for New Zealand in three years and partner Jesse Bromwich up front, the Kiwis boast a monster forward pack that also contains the tackle-busting charges of Jason Taumalolo.
Looking over the squad after it was announced on Tuesday, Thaiday had one simple thought as to the nature of Kidwell's first New Zealand team.
"Big, very big," Thaiday said.
"It's a team that we kind of expected them to pick. They've got a huge forward pack which their flashy outside backs will play off the back of.
"Tough challenge for the forward pack in the Australian team. We'll have to try and handle them as best we can to make sure outside backs and halves can really shine."
Prior to the mid-year Test former coach Stephen Kearney was without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Simon Mannering due to injury, Kieran Foran for personal reasons, he omitted hooker Issac Luke and held up the suspensions handed down to six Warriors players which precluded Manu Vatuvei, Ben Matulino and Bodene Thompson from selection while Kenny-Dowall was also a late withdrawal.
While Luke is the only one of those players to be selected for this week's Test, Kangaroos forward Matt Gillett believes the Kiwis will benefit from a more settled build-up.
"They've had a few changes. They had a few injuries at the start of the year which kept a few players out but the team they have got ready to go Saturday is a very strong side," Gillett said.
"I don't think they've got too many injury concerns – obviously Tuivasa-Sheck isn't there – but Jordy Kahu is filling in there and he's a great fullback as well.
"Their best 17 will run out there on Saturday and for us we know they are a danger side.
"All we can do is focus on what we can do right and do the right things for the team."