NSW’s State of Origin victory has led to dominance in a Kangaroos merit team picked by Australian selectors from performances in the interstate series.
Australia are searching for their 14th-straight Test win when the Kangaroos face New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland.
Mal Meninga’s Kangaroos have a chance to etch their names in the rugby league annals over the next few years.
Australia are searching for their 14th-straight Test win on Saturday when they take on New Zealand in what shapes as the turning of a new leaf at Mt Smart Stadium.
Victories over the Kiwis and Tonga over the next fortnight would see the Aussies enter rarefied air.
Not since 2011-14, when they strung together 16 wins under Tim Sheens, has the side experienced a period of sustained success.
And should they keep the roll going, they will have in their cross hairs the 17-game winning run which the side experienced under the great Frank Stanton from 1979-83.
That period included the famous “Invincibles” Kangaroos Tour of England and France in 1982, of which a young Meninga was a part.
And while Meninga is a student of the game’s history, he wouldn’t comment on where the current side stood in it.
“We don’t talk about it; we don’t think about it at all,” Meninga said of the side’s winning streak.
“Thirteen could be lucky or unlucky. I don’t know.”
The Kangaroos’ 13-game winning streak began when he took over in 2016.
While the team has looked unbeatable under his watch, it shouldn’t be forgotten he took over from Sheens at a time when the side was in a lull after back-to-back losses to the Kiwis.
Since 2006, Meninga has forged a resume which stands shoulder-to-shoulder with any other coach in the game’s history – having won 33 of 43 games while in charge of Queensland and Australia.
Meninga is facing one of the biggest tests of his decorated representative coaching career over the next few years as he attempts to guide the side after the exit of a golden generation.
Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater are all gone and Meninga must nurture a new breed.
“We don’t talk about the dawn of a new era; we don’t talk about lost players that might have been in this footy team,” Meninga said.
“It’s about being a Kangaroo and the expectations of a Kangaroo.”