Relaxed Kangaroos get festive before final
If the Kangaroos are feeling any nerves ahead of meeting New Zealand in the Four Nations final this week, they are certainly doing a good job of hiding it.
The night before conducting an incident-free captain's run at Anfield on Saturday morning (local time), Australia hosted an early Christmas party at their team hotel, complete with costumes and gifts.
It was one of the final pre-match events to cap off a relaxed week for the reigning world champions, with coach Mal Meninga saying it had been an enjoyable time to be around the players.
"It does [feel like it's going to be something special], I imagine both sides are looking forward to playing on this hallowed (Anfield) turf and just the buzz around the Australia camp is excellent," Meninga said.
"Our preparation has been good and I am pretty sure the players are ready to go.
"I love it because the players are engaged in it, so the players have been great to be around, their attitudes have been great, training has been good and they have had a lot of fun off the field.
"It was our last night together really and Christmas was good, it was a lot of fun, presents were relayed to individuals and it was very enjoyable.
"Now and we are looking forward to the game."
After finishing his Queensland coaching career as the most successful coach in Origin history, with 20 wins from 30 games at a success rate of 66.7 per cent, the lead-up to the Four Nations final has been somewhat of a new experience for Meninga in his first year as national coach.
With the Kangaroos unbeaten in 2016, and having outscored their opponents 146 points to 44 across five games, Meninga said the last week had simply been about sticking to what they know works.
"It's different [to the build-up to a State of Origin decider] in the sense that it is over here in the UK and it's on a tour, it is a Four Nations final so through the week our preparation matters," Meninga said.
"Everything that we do is all conditioned around playing well tomorrow.
"It has been a really good tour for us."
With second-rower Boyd Cordner - who had been battling a stomach bug this week - getting through the final team run without issue, the Kangaroos are set to take the field as expected on Monday morning (AEDT).