World Cup Preview: New Zealand v Scotland

New Zealand have made four changes to their squad for the quarter-final clash with Scotland at Headingley on Friday night.

Captain Simon Mannering returns alongside full-back Kevin Locke and forwards Frank Pritchard and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves.

Thomas Leuluai, Josh Hoffman, Greg Eastwood and Alex Glenn are the players to miss out for the Kiwis, who breezed through their group, scoring 146 points in three games.

Elijah Taylor believes that his side is stepping-up ahead of the tournament’s knock-out stages, as New Zealand look to defend their World Cup title.

“I know the intensity has picked up a little bit,” said Taylor. “The boys have trained well since we have been here and they have trained hard. We had a hard training session last night so nobody is taking anything for granted.

“We have to control what we can control, and that is what takes place on the footy field, practising well and getting execution up to standard. The more time on the field we do have, the more time we can gel and work on combinations.”

The Bravehearts, who have exceeded expectations by getting the knock-out stages, have also made some alterations to their matchday squad.

Hooker Ian Henderson and centre Kane Linnett are available again but Dale Ferguson is suspended and Ben Fisher‘s World Cup is over due to injury.

Full-back Matthew Russell, who was named man of the match in Scotland’s final group game victory over the USA, is confident in his side’s abilities, but whatever happens on Friday he has thoroughly enjoyed the World Cup so far.

He said, “We know we can beat them. We come in as underdogs but you never know what can happen, anyone can turn anyone over, so the mood is really good.

“We have definitely got a good attacking threat in our side. I have seen some clips of Shaun Johnson and he has being playing well for New Zealand, so it should be a really good game.

“I am really loving playing in the World Cup. I am just doing what I can do and just looking to impress as many people as I can, so it has been really good. Everyone is really close and we have got a good bond so all the lads get on really well.

“We have had really good support so far, I think we are good at turning crowds to support us because we are really passionate about Scotland.”

New Zealand: Jesse Bromwich (Melbourne Storm), Kieran Foran (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), Bryson Goodwin (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Shaun Johnson (New Zealand Warriors), Sam Kasiano (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Kevin Locke (New Zealand Warriors), Issac Luke (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Simon Mannering (New Zealand Warriors), Ben Matulino (New Zealand Warriors), Sam Moa (Sydney Roosters), Jason Nightingale (St George Illawarra Dragons), Frank-Paul Nuuausala (Sydney Roosters), Frank Pritchard (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs), Elijah Taylor (New Zealand Warriors), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (Sydney Roosters), Manu Vatuvei (New Zealand Warriors), Jared Waerea-Hargreaves (Sydney Roosters), Dean Whare (Penrith Panthers), Sonny Bill Williams (Sydney Roosters).

Scotland: Danny Addy (Bradford Bulls), Sam Barlow (Halifax), Danny Brough (Huddersfield Giants), Brett Carter (Workington Town), Luke Douglas (Gold Coast Titans), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Andrew Henderson (Sheffield Eagles), Ian Henderson (Catalans Dragons), Alex Hurst (London Broncos), Ben Kavanagh (Widnes Vikings), Kane Linnett (North Queensland Cowboys), Brett Phillips (Workington Town), Matthew Russell (Gold Coast Titans), David Scott (Featherstone Rovers), Mitchell Stringer (Sheffield Eagles), Alex Szostak (Sheffield Eagles), Adam Walker (Hull KR), Peter Wallace (Brisbane Broncos), Oliver Wilkes (Wakefield Trinity Wildcats).

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