Rugby League - Aussies out to emulate Invincibles

26 November 2013 12:49 AM

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Rugby League - Aussies out to emulate Invincibles

Australia have their sights set on topping the achievements of the "Invincibles" as they prepare for Saturday's World Cup final against New Zealand at Old Trafford.

The Kangaroos spoke before Saturday's 64-0 semi-final defeat of Fiji about their 1982 predecessors, who were labelled the Invincibles after going through the tour undefeated and kept their tryline intact for four consecutive matches against Great Britain, Leigh, Bradford Northern and Cumbria.

Tim Sheens' men vowed to tighten up their defence after conceding four tries in their opening match against England at the Millennium Stadium and they kept their line intact for their next four games to draw comparisons with the team of '82.

"It's way too early for that," said Cronulla forward Paul Gallen. "Maybe if we win, you can draw comparisons.

"At the end of the day, if we don't win this weekend, this tournament hasn't been a success.

"Apart from 20 minutes against England, I guess we've been pretty good. Obviously against England and Fiji we were challenged a little bit, the rest of the games I suppose we won pretty easily.

"The pleasing thing about the wins is there hasn't been any tries. If it's been 20-0 at half-time, the final score hasn't 30-10, it's been 40-0 so we've kept the momentum going in every game.

"After the England game, we spoke about needing a bit more pride in our defence. We had two games without a try and then we started to think about it a little bit and on the weekend it was pretty motivating.

"It's been a long time since a team hasn't had a try scored against them in four games. But what we've done in the tournament means nothing really, it's all about this weekend."

The Kangaroos have run in 238 points in their five matches so far, largely against teams containing part-time players, and Gallen accepts they may not be as battle-hardened as they would like to be.

He said: "What do you do? You can only play what's in front of you. We've certainly been into each other in training during the week.

"The Kiwis weren't challenged at all throughout the whole tournament until the weekend so it just goes to show what a good side they are, that when they were challenged, they did manage to get that win in the last minute. They're a quality side."

As one of five survivors from the Australian team beaten by the Kiwis in the 2008 World Cup final, Gallen is acutely aware of the threat posed by Stephen Kearney's men.

"That's been spoken about," the Sharks captain said. "To say we'll be motivated by 2008 probably wouldn't be correct but we certainly want to go out there and win the World Cup."

Gallen will be aiming to avoid a hat-trick having been also been in the team shocked by Kearney's men in the 2010 Four Nations Series final in Brisbane.

"It was a bit like the England game at the weekend," he recalled. "It was in the last minute with a couple of passes overhead that stuck. They've certainly got the ability and they're a side you've got to play 80 minutes against."

Sonny Bill Williams is expected to cause the most problems for the Australian defence with his devastating running and silky ball-handling skills but Gallen believes the two extra substitutions allowed under international rules could also be a factor.

"He's certainly one (threat) but there's many," Gallen said. "Both halves are playing great and Issac Luke is running more metres than any other hooker in the game so he's very hard to stop out of dummy half.

"The way to stop him is to stop their big boys but the international rules with 12 interchanges certainly suits the Kiwis side with the size of their pack. They can rotate guys like (Ben) Matulino, (Sam) Kasiano and (Frank) Pritchard a fair bit.

"We're going to have to right on our game, especially defensively, this weekend."


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