Australia star Gallen fears Kiwi backlash
Australia prop Paul Gallen admits his side are fearful of a New Zealand backlash when the two sides meet in the opening clash of the Four Nations on Friday.
Kangaroos head coach Tim Sheens has named an unchanged side from the one that dismantled the Kiwis so convincingly two weeks ago as he prepares for the tournament curtain raiser.
But, despite the 42-6 romp in Newcastle, Gallen knows all too well it would be foolish to write off World Cup and defending Four Nations champions New Zealand.
And with the tournament taking place in Britain this year the 30-year-old Cronulla-Sutherland Shark admits that conditions at Warrington's Halliwell Jones Stadium might not favour the Kangaroos.
"We've come from summer over in Australia to winter here and the conditions are probably going to be far more slippery and greasy than they were in Newcastle and that will favour New Zealand," said Gallen.
"There will be a bit more play up the middle with less passing and line breaks than there were two weeks ago but as long as we complete our sets and kick and chase well then the result should go our way.
"It is scary to think that New Zealand have been hurting for the past two weeks.
"It has happened to us in the past where we have been caught but I would like to think that we have learned from that and that we can put things right this year.
"We aren't looking any further than this game at the moment, as far as we're concerned this is the most important game of the tournament and it's crucial to start with a win."
Kiwi head coach Stephen Kearney has largely kept faith with the side that under performed two weeks ago as New Zealand Warrior Ben Matulino comes in for the suspended Russell Packer.
Thomas Leuluai, the only English-based player in the New Zealand squad, is on the bench, with Isaac Luke replacing Australian-born Nathan Fien in the starting line-up.
That means that four of the five debutants from a fortnight ago, Kevin Locke, Gerard Beale, Kalifa Faifai Loa and Alex Glenn, all keep their places in the squad.
And captain and talisman Benji Marshall has endorsed Kearney's selection, laughing off suggestions that inexperience was the main reason for his side's under-par showing last time out.
"The biggest thing about the loss against Australia two weeks ago was the fact that all our young boys stood up," Marshall said.
"A lot of people have been making excuses about the fact we had so many young, inexperienced guys in the team but I thought they were our best players.
"I really feel like if we control possession a bit better, and let's not forget we only completed 40-odd per-cent against the Kangaroos last time, we will compete."
Meanwhile on Saturday hosts England and Wales clash in Leigh with England head coach Steve McNamara including a number of Australian-based players in his starting 13.
Former St George stand-off Rangi Chase retains his place in the half-backs alongside skipper Kevin Sinfield while Australian-born Wests Tiger Chris Heighington and Brisbane Bronco Jack Reed both start.
And Sinfield has paid tribute to those based in Australia and the good influence they have had on the squad so far.
"Rangi has been fantastic as have the other Australian-based guys who have come in, their attitude has been brilliant and they have certainly brought a freshness to the squad," Sinfield said.
"We have got a nice mix of youth and experience, so on the one hand we've got exuberance but on the other also a steely determination from the older guys."
Date published : 27 Oct 201102:16:58