Kiwis to build on second-half momentum
Kiwis coach David Kidwell has refused to panic following his side's humbling 30-12 loss to the Kangaroos at GIO Stadium, choosing to focus on the fight shown in the second half rather than New Zealand's poor start that cost them any chance of victory.
The Kangaroos shot out to a 30-0 lead when Jake Trbojevic crossed in the 44th minute but to their credit, New Zealand kept their defensive line intact for the rest of the game with tries to Simon Mannering and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck ensuring they won the second half.
"Looking at the final 30 minutes, there's something to build on," Kidwell said after the game.
"There was a good process that we worked on all week and we saw it there for the last 30 minutes. We definitely need to work on our starts and take our opportunities. At this level you've got to take them – Australia did – and we didn't.
"I can't fault the boys for their preparation this week. They set the bar really high and we had a good game plan but obviously we couldn't execute it at the start of the game. As I said, there are positives to build on and we'll get better."
Friday night's loss was New Zealand's fifth defeat in a row at the hands of their trans-Tasman rivals and the second time in as many matches they had given up a 24-0 half-time lead following their embarrassing loss in the Four Nations final.
It's a worrying trend for the number two ranked side who need to find a way to turn things around ahead of the World Cup at the end of the year.
Kiwis skipper Jesse Bromwich wholeheartedly agreed with his coach's assessment of the game and said the onus was on the playing group to rectify their appalling starts.
"Obviously we didn't want to start like that," he said.
"I don't think the start was that slow, but after a few sets it was a bit slow. I can't put my finger on what happened – I'll have to watch the game over again and analyse it there.
"We finished the game strong and we need to build on that. Preparation the whole week was awesome – Dave and the coaches did an awesome job – but us as players need to start better. That's on us; we need to stick together and improve.
"It's a rep game. I don't think you need any extra motivation when you pull that black and white jumper on.
"For us it's the pinnacle; we don't have State of Origin and all that. We just have playing for our country, and for us, that's the pinnacle and [we're full of] pride so there's no reason for us starting so slow."
According to Kidwell, the next few months will determine who makes the cut for the World Cup, with form, not reputation, the main selection criteria for the end-of-year tournament.
"For me, that's what I've learnt. There are guys who are hungry to actually put their hand up and want to be involved in the World Cup who have got a great opportunity to possibly win another World Cup and leave a legacy," he said.
"I just said [to the guys in the sheds] that I'm going to choose guys that are really putting their hand up for their respective clubs; that's my focus now.
"There were a couple of guys who I really thought put their hand up today. Russell Packer, Simon Mannering – it was his 42nd Test – and I think he played close to 80 minutes. Those are the guys I want in this Kiwi environment."