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Strong start essential for Kiwis

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/11/2016

The Kiwis will need a strong start in their Four Nations rugby league final to keep Australia's big forward pack on the back foot, coach David Kidwell believes.

The New Zealanders have yet to beat the Kangaroos in 2016, with last week's 14-8 Four Nations pool match loss their third defeat of the year.

The defending Four Nations champions suffered a 16-0 Anzac Test loss in May, and were thumped 26-6 in Perth last month.

The Kiwis were in danger of missing out on the Four Nations final after being held to an 18-18 draw against Scotland at the weekend, but Australia's 36-18 win over England on Sunday means they will defend their title at Anfield early on Monday (NZT).

Kidwell says it's important that the Kiwis get things right from the start, after their execution proved lacking in previous games.

"I thought Australia's big men and outside backs really got them on the front foot - it's something we've got to look at and make sure our execution's right," he said.

"We've got to have the right attitude for Sunday, but I've got full confidence in this team and the way we've prepared."

Skipper Jesse Bromwich says his team know only too well the importance of a good start, something that eluded them in their 34-2 World Cup final loss to Australia three years ago at Old Trafford.

"If there's anything we've learned, it's probably about our start. They came out really hard there, blew us off the park really early and we just couldn't find our feet after that," he said.

"It's a big ask against Australia, they've got a very big forward pack. But it's something we've been working on, and hopefully we can show that on Sunday."

Kidwell still has a tricky decision to make on a replacement for five-eighth Thomas Leuluai, who suffered a double jaw fracture against Scotland.

Te Maire Martin is one option, but lacks international experience, while versatile Melbourne Storm backrower Tohu Harris is another possibility after starting at No.6 against Australia two years ago.

"We've got a couple of options here, we've got a couple of training sessions coming up so we'll figure it out then," Kidwell said.

"Whoever comes in, we'll have full confidence they'll be able to do the job."

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