McClennan Ready For Aussie Challenge

Leeds Rhinos-bound Brent Webb will again take up the full-back role for the Kiwis, with Shontayne Hape and Manu Vatuvai on the wings, and Iosia Soliola and Steve Matai in the centres.

Stacey Jones will continue to direct the side from scrum-half, joined in the halves by Nigel Vagana at stand-off.

Ruben Wiki and Roy Asotasi are the props, with Dene Halatau at hooker, David Kidwell and Simon Mannering in the second row, and Davif Fa’alogo at loose forward.

Motu Tony, Nathan Cayless, Adam Blair and Frank Pritchard each get a spot on the substitutes’ bench with Awen Gutenbeil standing by as the eighteenth man.  

McClennan, who was named international coach of the year earlier this week, admitted that his side would go into the final as underdogs against what he described as a very dangerous team.

“The Australians are a very dangerous football team,” he said. “They can create opportunities very quickly and they are fast. They’re a handful, they can break out in a split second. We’re going to have to play extremely well on Saturday night.”

But McClennan went on to say that his players deserved their place in the final, and were keen to defend their title.

 “They are all really happy,” he continued. “The players deserve this. We feel we’ve earned the right through our deeds on the football field. We feel we’ve earned the right to play in the grand final. It’s a special week and everyone will enjoy themselves this week.”

“We’ve got to prepare thoroughly. We have to make sure we fine tune and improve on what we did last week in Wellington and the week before that. You’ve got to respect Australia for their dominance.

“And we respect ourselves too. We know we’ve been playing some pretty descent football. All we can do is get out there and do our best.”

New Zealand

1. Brent Webb, 2. Shontayne Hape, 3. Iosia Soliola, 4. Steve Matai, 5. Manu Vatuvei, 6. Nigel Vagana, 7. Stacey Jones, 8. Ruben Wiki ©, 9. Dene Halatau, 10. Roy Asotasi, 11. David Kidwell, 12. Simon Mannering, 13. David Fa’alogo

Subs 14. Motu Tony, 15. Nathan Cayless, 16. Adam Blair, 17. Frank Pritchard, 18th man. Awen Guttenbeil


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