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Kangaroos well aware of Kiwi threat

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 18/11/2016 Ian McCullough

<span style="font-size:13px;">It's been 10 years since Australia last beat New Zealand in a Four Nations final - a statistic Mal Meninga's players are desperate to overturn.</span> © Jon Super/AP Photo It's been 10 years since Australia last beat New Zealand in a Four Nations final - a statistic Mal Meninga's players are desperate to overturn. Australia will be out to end a decade-long wait for a Four Nations final victory over New Zealand when the sides meet at Anfield on Sunday.

Despite having appeared in all eight of the Tri/Four Nations Finals since 1999, Australia have lost three to New Zealand with their last success over the Kiwis coming in 2006 in Brisbane.

David Kidwell's side were unconvincing in their opening three matches and held to a shock draw by Scotland last week in Workington before Australia beat England to confirm their spot in the decider.

However, the Kangaroos are well aware of the the Kiwis' prowess in tournament finals having been beaten in the 2005, 2010 and 2014 Four Nations finals in addition to the 2008 World Cup.

"We don't need to be reminded about what New Zealand are capable of," Kangaroos halfback Cooper Cronk told AAP.

"They have one of the best props in the world in Jesse Bromwich, the reigning Dally M Medal winner in Jason Taumalolo and Shaun Johnson who is one of the best halfbacks in the world."

After losing three straight matches against the Kiwis, Australia under Mal Meninga, has now won the last three by a combined margin of 56-14.

The Kangaroos have also not lost at a neutral venue since the shock 24-0 defeat at Elland Road in 2005, with their worst result against the Kiwis since then coming in a 20-all draw in London in 2009.

Since that stalemate at the Stoop ground in Twickenham, Australia have won 16 straight matches in Europe with Johnathan Thurston playing a key role in nearly all of them.

Thurston will play his last match on English soil on Sunday and will call time on his representative career after the Rugby League World Cup next year.

New Zealand will be without experienced five-eighth Thomas Leuluai who is out due to a broken jaw and Thurston said the loss of the former Warriors playmaker will place more expectation on halfback Shaun Johnson.

"Even though they might have just limped into the final, the Kiwis know how to win tournaments and they know how to play in big games," Thurston said.

"But there's going to be a lot of pressure on Johnson's shoulders to create opportunities for them but their strength is definitely their forward pack.

"Whenever they've won tournaments, it's been through their forward pack. So our boys need to match them in the middle third if we are to have any hope of winning this game."

Kangaroos team: Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Aaron Woods, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Trent Merrin. Interchange: David Klemmer, Shannon Boyd, Michael Morgan, Tyson Frizzell, Justin O'Neill, Jake Trbojevic. (two to be omitted).

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