WIZ: Kiwis will upset the Aussies – again!

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    New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney - the common factor in the Kiwis' recent woes. (AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy)

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    There is a rugby league Test match on tonight and honestly, I think my beloved Kiwis can win.

    This game means more to my countrymen than many of you Roarers know, and I’m confident we will beat the Aussies and throw a spanner in your World Cup works.

    I have heard in my travels this week that this is a ‘ho-hum’ game and nowhere near the importance of a NRL round.

    But I can report, first hand, that any chance to do battle with Australia in any sport is amazingly high on any New Zealander’s list, and this game will see the Kiwis produce something very special.

    Steve Kearney hasn’t had long to work with the current team but my spies tell me the boys have gelled from day one and are poised to inflict another upset on the Kangaroos, even though we will be missing big guns such as Benji Marshall, Jeremy Smith and Sonny Bill Williams.

    Halfback Shaun Johnson is definitely the key.

    I have been critical of him in the past but in the last few weeks I have become a serious fan.

    He has finally started running to the line and taking on the defence. Shaun has extraordinary skills – beautiful footwork, exceptional speed and a kicking game that is improving with every outing.

    I think he is very much a confidence player and he is really confident after some terrific games in recent weeks. Watch him closely Kangaroos, the boy can really play!

    Readers of the Wiz column on The Roar should know by now that I have been singing the praises of Melbourne Storm whiz kid Tohu Harris, and he has been called into the New Zealand team for tonight’s biggie in Canberra.

    I say Harris, who is only 21, has been one of the sensations of the NRL in 2013. He could be anything in our game. Take a tip from the Wiz and watch him tonight: he is five-star material.

    Storm coach Craig Bellamy gave Harris an opportunity in the World Club Challenge against Leeds last February. He has gone on to play in every game this season for the defending champions and current league leaders, Melbourne.

    The young bloke comes in for Jeremy Smith, who unfortunately misses this Canberra game due to suspension.

    A product of Hastings, the powerful Tohu joins Storm team-mates Jesse Bromwich and Kevin Proctor in the Kiwis squad. He has a familiar face around him in Roger Tuivasa-Sheck from the Roosters. Both were in the junior Kiwis last year.

    I am not sure if Roger will get a start tonight but mark my words: after making his New Zealand debut, he will become a must-pick player.

    I really like what I am hearing about New Zealand’s build-up to this ANZAC Test. If you are having a little flutter, the Wizard is tipping the mighty Kiwis by four!

    The other game this weekend, in my opinion, is a non-event.

    City versus Country? I think it’s high time the league authorities got rid of this concept. It has run its race – just look at the number of withdrawals because of so-called ‘injuries’.

    If it meant something, such as a chance of attracting attention from the NSW State of Origin selectors, I reckon all players would be on deck.

    It is not an Origin trial. In my mind it is only a rugby league promotional game played at a country venue.

    And can somebody tell the Wizard why the NSW v Queensland Under-20s State of Origin game is being played tomorrow? The scheduling of this important game beggars all belief.

    Gary Freeman
    Gary Freeman

    Gary 'Wiz' Freeman is one of the great halfbacks in New Zealand rugby league history. Now an outspoken and popular media personality, he joined The Roar in 2012 as an expert rugby league columnist.

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