Shaun Johnson was in top form for the Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium.
Shaun Johnson was in top form for the Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium. Bradley Kanaris GETTY IMAGES

Kiwi win over Kangaroos good for the comp

DYED-in-the-wool supporters of rugby league in this country were understandably bitterly disappointed at the inept display of the Kangaroos in their Four Nations opener against the Kiwis on Saturday night.

But seriously, who was surprised?

This was mostly a second-string Australian team, and played like one.

And having no Greg Inglis or Daly Cherry-Evans for the second half, added injury to insult.

But that is a one-eyed Aussie slant on the 30-12 hiding the Kiwis handed the Kangaroos.

The pragmatic perspective is what a massive fillip the result is for the Four Nations tournament, and the international game in general.

Unlike previously, Australia contesting the final is now not a foregone conclusion.

And whether that is because a host of front-liners are not available is irrelevant.

Unlike many of these post-season events from the past, the Kiwis have jumped out of the blocks with an awesome display and not waited until weeks two and three to find some form.

To win it from here, the Kangaroos must now beat England in Melbourne next weekend and Samoa a week later in Wollongong.

And judging by the form of both at Suncorp on Saturday, that is no foregone conclusion.

Before dissecting the poor form of the Kangaroos - 22 completed sets of 34 possessions, just three line breaks, 51 missed tackles and 14 handling errors - praise fittingly goes to the Kiwis.

They were awesome, all over the field.

And while plaudits have been heaped on Shaun Johnson, Kieran Foran, Greg Eastwood and Jason Taumalolo, in my book there was no better player on the field than Jesse Bromwich.

If he is not the best prop in the game at the moment, he will be by the end of this tournament.

Johnson was outstanding too, as was debutant Taumalolo, but the Kiwis did not have a weakness.

And the scary thing from an Australian perspective is that history says they improve in bucket loads as these tournaments progress. What Tim Sheens does with his squad is anyone's guess.

In hindsight he erred by not having Ben Hunt on the bench, and the Bronco may well get his crack at the Poms next Sunday following the Cherry-Evans' injury.

However, it is in the forwards where the Kangaroos have to lift the tempo. Sam Thaiday was particularly poor, Beau Scott had just six possessions and only Corey Parker made an impact from the bench.

Sheens might need to make good his pre-match threat to sack players who didn't perform.

But the poor performance of the Kangaroos aside, the opening double header was a ripper.

Almost 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium in late October for a rugby league game, combined with the excellent form of the Kiwis, Poms and Samoans, has merely whetted our appetite.

And hopefully the locals will be hungrier next start.



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