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Meninga hails Aussie's spine as best ever

NZN 20/11/2016 Ian McCullough

Australian coach Mal Meninga has hailed the Kangaroos spine of Darius Boyd, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston as the greatest he's ever seen in any team.

Boyd was named man of the match in the 34-8 win over New Zealand in the Four Nations final at Anfield with Cronk voted man of the series after helping Australia return the summit of international rugby league.

Smith and Thurston are certain to be in contention for rugby league Immortal status when their illustrious careers conclude and Meninga admitted he was in awe of his players.

"It was a great performance and sitting back and watching these guys play is a real pleasure," Meninga said.

"I haven't seen too many better spines in our game or in international rugby league.

"I know how special it is to put on the green and gold jersey on for Cameron, Cooper, Darius and John - they are extraordinarily good players and great fellas and always seem to perform when it matters.

"That is how you judge a player and everything they have done in their lives has been surrounded by success."

The Kangaroos squad has been rated by senior players and the most united and harmonious they have ever known and Meninga credited the whole team for buying in to what he preaches.

"The last couple of weeks I have been really happy with the performances," he said.

"Everyone, the whole 24 were part of the team, everyone got a game, which is important and at the end of the day the guys who ran onto the field were playing for the group.

"I couldn't be happier as a coach."

Skipper Smith, a veteran of 10 State of Origin series successes and a World Cup, said the tour ranks alongside some of his best moments of in a 15-year career.

"It ranks quite highly, given the transformation of the team this year," Smith said.

"There's been a lot of new faces, a new coaching staff and it's been a seamless transition.

"It's one on the happiest and tight-knit groups I have been involved with."

The win also saw Australia usurp New Zealand as the No.1-ranked team in the world in front of a crowd of over 40,000 at the home of Premier League club Liverpool FC.

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