Marshall ready for Kangaroos challenge
Such is Benji Marshall’s frustration after a torrid year with the Wests Tigers, he’s been counting down the days until he can take it out on Australia in Saturday’s one-off Test.
“I can’t wait, I’ve waiting five weeks for this,” Marshall quipped on Friday.
After starting the season as NRL premiership favourites, the Tigers finished it in crisis – missing the finals then axing coach Tim Sheens after a 10-year reign.
Marshall and Sheens sat two seats away from each other at Friday’s pre-Test media conference – in front of a shark tank at Townsville Aquarium – but didn’t appear to speak before or afterwards, doing little to quell talk of a feud between the pair.
Neither Sheens nor Marshall would discuss the situation at the Tigers, but Marshall hailed the four-time premiership winning coach when asked how hard it would be for his side to beat the Kangaroos.
“He’s the greatest coach I’ve every worked under and it’s going to be tough,” Marshall
“I know what he can do as a coach how much of an affect he can have on players.
“But we have things we’ve worked hard on and hopefully they will be better than what he has.”
The Kiwis have a wretched record in one-off games against Australia and have not beaten the Kangaroos in such a format since 2003 when a Clinton Toopi hat-trick inspired a side coached by Daniel Anderson to a 30-16 win in Auckland.
But they overcame the Kangaroos in the 2008 World Cup final and prevailed in the 2005 and 2010 Four Nations deciders and Marshall was at a loss to explain why they are better in tournament matches.
“If I did then we may have won a few more of them,” he said.
“We’re definitely here to win this game. The impact at training has been so good, I believe we can go set-to-set with the Aussies and have every chance to win.
“Hopefully this week what we have done comes into fruition.”
Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney said his selection of five Canterbury players was a reward for their excellent recent form, with Greg Eastwood, Krisnan Inu, and Sam Perrett all being recalled to the international side.
Kearney also named giant Sam Kasiano and has been delighted with the contribution of the giant Bulldogs front-rower in camp.
“He’s been excellent. He follows Frank Pritchard around like he’s his shadow, they look alike and they’re pretty close,” Kearney said.
“He’s enjoyed his time in camp and we are glad to have him.”
With the World Cup almost a year away, Marshall said it was too soon to be using the game as a trial for squad places, and was only concerned about ending the year on a high.
“I always say it, but when you represent your country there’s no greater honour,” he said.
“In terms of World Cups it’s hard to say what we can take from it, injuries can happen and players can lose form over that period.”© AAP 2013
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