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Johnson key for Kiwis in Coventry: Smith

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/11/2016 Ian McCullough

Cameron Smith believes a confident and happy Shaun Johnson will be a huge danger for Australia in Sunday's Four Nations clash against New Zealand in Coventry.

Johnson proved to the be the difference in the Kiwis' 17-16 win over England last week, scoring a try and kicking the winning field goal in a fine all-round display.

The mercurial Warriors playmaker was poor in the recent loss to the Kangaroos in Perth, criticised heavily for his fifth tackle options as David Kidwell's side lost 20-6.

However, he rediscovered his mojo against the hosts at Huddersfield and Smith said making his life difficult on the pitch will be a vital part of his team's gameplan.

"It will be everybody's job to stop him," Smith said.

"When Shaun's playing well he pops up all over the park he's not fixed in one position. I think we're all going to get an opportunity at some stage to put some pressure on him.

"It's a big job. He's a good player, he's got good speed and sometimes he's hard to contain as he showed a few years back in the Four Nations grand final.

"He's one of the best halves in the game when he's got form and confidence."

The New Zealand pack was also crucial in the win over England with joint Dally M Medallist Jason Taumalolo producing an outstanding, all-action 76-minute performance.

"We'll have to stop their big boys first," Smith said.

"Taumalolo ran for nearly 300 metres, (Martin) Taupau was great, (Jesse) Bromwich was great.

"They all played aggressive and that is the style of football their coach wants them to play."

New Zealand coach David Kidwell said using Taumalolo for more minutes than he did in Perth was key to the win over England and hinted he may do so again at Ricoh Arena.

"We're looking to improve on last week and move forward," Kidwell said.

"We're looking for JT to have another big game - it's going to be another tough contest.

"I learned a few lessons from Perth and about what is best for the team in terms of the interchange."

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