Kearney relishing Hull return

New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney has expressed excitement at his imminent return to Hull for Saturday’s do-or-die Gillette Four Nations battle against England at the KC Stadium (6.00pm).

The former Hull FC forward takes the Kiwis to his old stomping ground knowing defeat will end the defending champions’ involvement in the tournament but victory will set up a showdown with Australia in the 2011 Gillette Four Nations final at Elland Road, Leeds, on Saturday November 19.

Kearney, a member of the Hull side that defeated Leeds Rhinos in the 2005 Challenge Cup final in Cardiff, will lend all his big match experience to New Zealand as they look to get the better of the host nation – and a fervent, partisan crowd.

“I know all about how passionate the Hull people are when it comes to Rugby League and no doubt the atmosphere will be something else when we kick off,” said Kearney.

“I played in front of some big crowds at the KC Stadium during my year at the club and they were always very good at making noise.

“We had 10,000 people waiting to welcome us back when we won the Cup in 2005 and the atmosphere that day was electric.

“It’s going to be the same this weekend but we’ll be prepared for it. Wherever we play over here we know we are going to have the crowd against us, except when we play Australia, so the noise won’t come as a surprise.

“Hopefully there will be a few people there shouting for, even though they’ll be in the minority. That won’t bother us because the Kiwi boys love to play.”

Kearney has already caught up with some of his former team-mates from 2005, including Kirk Yeaman and Garreth Carvell, both of whom are part of England coach Steve McNamara’s squad for Saturday.

Yeaman, who still plays for Hull FC, has played in England’s last three games while Warrington prop Carvell could feature this weekend if James Graham and Jamie Peacock do not recover from injuries sustained in the 36-20 defeat by Australia at Wembley last Saturday.

“It was good to see mates like Kirk, Garreth and Peter Lupton last week and talk about old times,” added Kearney. “We all spoke about 2005 and how we’re all firmly focused on the present, which is how it should be.”

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