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Kidwell hits back at Mal Meninga criticism

NZN 4/05/2017 Matt Encarnacion

New Zealand coach David Kidwell has hit back at Australian criticism the Kiwis hadn't helped promote Friday's Test match in Canberra, saying they were focused on playing the game.

In his weekly column for News Corp Australia, Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga hit out at the Kiwis' decision to begin preparations in Sydney before shifting base on Wednesday.

During an awkward press conference where he sat next to Meninga, Kidwell claimed the Kiwis had done their bit to build up what is unlikely to be a sellout at GIO Stadium.

"Sydney just was a place that we could centralise everyone to come into camp," Kidwell said.

"The Warriors boys played on the Sunday afternoon so we couldnt' get them in until Monday morning. That was the place, Sydney, to fly directly in there and get our campaign started."

The Kiwis spent the first two days of the week in the harbour city before joining the Kangaroos at a function at the War Memorial on Wednesday.

While all Kangaroos players were made available for media, the Kiwis opted to shelter big-name stars Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson, Jason Taumalalo and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

An interview involving winger Jordan Rapana, the only Raiders player involved in either team, was restricted to four questions.

Meninga, who claimed in his column that the Kangaroos had been left to handle all the promotion in Canberra, said he had been baffled by the Kiwis' lack of support.

"I'm a bit confused. It's nothing against David, and it's not the players' fault," he said.

"But when I took over the Kangaroos, I've been set a task of trying to lift the profile of rugby league internationally. I'd just like a little bit of help as well.

"It's part of our obligation. It's not only playing the game, but we need to be doing things off field around the promotion of the game as well.

"That's who we are, we're ambassadors for the game. We need to make sure we look after the game and one of those things is to help promote in every possible way we can.

"It's the way it is at the moment, but we'll keep on forging ahead, keep on trying to do the right thing by our international game and one day we'll fill stadiums."

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