Scotland clash a test of Kiwis' focus

Nov 2, 2017 - 9:00 PM It was a result that sent shockwaves through New Zealand rugby league - and provoked no shortage of mirth across the Tasman.

The Kiwis' 18-18 draw with lowly Scotland in last year's Four Nations campaign remains - on the field, at least - the lowest point of coach David Kidwell's 14-month tenure, and a major sore spot heading into Saturday's Rugby League World Cup rematch.

Stalwart prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves was at the ground on that wet November night in Workington, although wasn't named in the matchday squad.

He can still remember his teammates' distress.

"Hence why for us, speaking about that and what we went through last year, you can't underestimate a Scottish side," the 20-Test veteran said.

"They're super passionate."

Yet the Bravehearts are hardly primed for a repeat result.

Devoid of key NRL-based players including Lachlan Coote and Euan Aitken, Scotland were thrashed 50-4 by Tonga last week and appear the weakest Pool B squad.

Waerea-Hargreaves - reinstated to the Kiwis' Cup squad after missing their Anzac Day Test loss - insisted he wouldn't be taking the Scots lightly in Christchurch.

They'd be wounded by their defeat to Mate Ma'a.

"Watched a bit of footage on them this morning and they're eager, going to be keen, and obviously with a performance like that last week they're going to be coming out and starting hard. It's about worrying about us," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"Honestly, we're taking each game at a time."

On the Kiwis front, Kidwell has sought to rest a host of senior players after they brushed aside a one-dimensional Toa Samoa 38-8 last weekend in Auckland.

Simon Mannering, Thomas Leuluai and Jordan Rapana have earned weeks off, while in-form playmaker Te Maire Martin replaces Kodi Nikorima.

Waerea-Hargreaves will again start in the front row.

The 28-year-old Roosters enforcer admitted his side needed to reduce their handling errors and increase their completion rate against the Scots.

They made 17 errors and completed just 62 per cent of sets against Toa Samoa, and can't make the same errors at the pointy end of the Cup.

"For us, it's focusing on the little things, not our opponents, but also knowing they'll come out and produce a good game," Waerea-Hargreaves said.

"Clarity is important, knowing your role and - most of all - being out there and enjoying your time with the brothers. It definitely felt like that, enjoying our time out there, but at the same time working hard for each other."

Source: AAP

No one has shouted yet.
Be the first!