Australia skipper Darren Lockyer admits the Kangaroos have been overtaken by New Zealand as the world’s dominant force.
Speaking ahead of the trans-Tasman warm up test on Sunday, Lockyer said the Aussies will have to “dig deep” to beat their traditional rivals.
“Last year the Kiwis were too good in the final,” Lockyer told NRL.com.
“They are the champs and we are the challengers, we will have to prepare really well and work extremely hard to beat them.”
The teams will face off at Newcastle’s Ausgrid Stadium before embarking on the long trip to the UK to take part in the Four Nations tournament.
And the intensity of the competition is something that Lockyer is wary of.
“It will be extremely hard, it is almost like a State of Origin series over five weeks,” he added.
“There a team over the last four or five years, probably ever since the World Cup Final, they have come along in leaps and bounds and they have a lot of belief.
“Australia used to dominate International football but I think those days are long gone.
“For us to win we have to really dig deep.”