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England our biggest challenge: Brown

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 24/10/2016 Angelo Risso

Kiwis utility Lewis Brown has pinpointed an English outfit on home soil as his side's biggest Four Nations test.

The 30-year-old Brown and his teammates arrived in the UK last week and will head from London to their base in Leeds on Tuesday.

They will take on an English squad with their tails up after last year's series win over the Kiwis, and a thumping 40-6 win over France.

New coach Wayne Bennett took an experimental side into the Avignon match but leads a side packed with NRL talent, including Sam Burgess and James Graham.

New Zealand, meanwhile, looked well off their best a fortnight ago as they slumped to a 26-6 loss to the Kangaroos in Perth.

Australia's smaller forward pack got on top of their trans-Tasman rivals quickly, while halves Shaun Johnson and Thomas Leuluai failed to shine.

Brown, who plies his trade for NRL outfit Manly, said the Kiwis would have no greater challenge this year than trumping England.

Both sides played a similar style of rugby league, deploying a big forward pack to create space for fleet-footed backs.

Props Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Jesse Bromwich, as well as rampaging Dally M medallist Jason Taumalolo, would be key to victory.

"I'm pretty sure they'll try and match us in the middle," Brown said.

"Games in the UK, some are won with only eight or 10 points, so it's going to be whoever muscles up in the middle."

Veteran playmaker Leuluai echoed his teammate's remarks, saying the English were persistently underrated.

Their side included multiple NRL and Super League champions, including Leuluai's future Wigan colleagues Liam Farrell and John Bateman.

The 31-year-old ex-Warrior will join Wigan at the end of the Four Nations campaign after leaving his NRL side a year early.

"Everyone talks about Super League and the NRL and the differences, but if you picked the top 17 from that competition, it's strong," Leuluai said.

"We definitely know not to underestimate them."

The Kiwis will also have to overcome the challenge of adapting to northern England's notoriously dreary and frigid weather.

New skipper Bromwich, 27, said there was plenty of potential for his side to become homesick but hoped the young players' enthusiasm would shine through.

"With these younger boys, it's their first time over there, so they'll be bouncing off the walls," Bromwich said.

Bromwich's Kiwis will take on England in Huddersfield on Saturday before matches against Australia in Coventry and Scotland in Workington.

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