NZ can turn tables on Jillaroos: coach

Dec 1, 2017 - 5:45 AM The simple act of turning down in-flight food offerings shows why Kiwi Ferns coach Tony Benson has faith they can snap their losing run against the Jillaroos in the Women's Rugby League World Cup final.

The odds are stacked against New Zealand heading into Saturday's decider after they fell in their past four games against Australia, including three defeats at the Auckland Nines at the start of the year and the Anzac Test match in April.

That's despite having once boasted a 13-year winning streak over their trans-Tasman rivals, which only ended in the last World Cup final four years ago.

But Benson is convinced the team that runs on to Suncorp Stadium will be "completely different" from the one the Jillaroos last faced, saying they have come on enormously since he took over as coach in March.

"The way they conduct themselves, they've become a very professional group of elite athletes," Benson told reporters on Friday.

"Physically they've changed shape - they're a hell of a lot fitter. They know what to do to get themselves in perfect condition.

"We don't even have to tell them (what to eat) - even on the plane when we're offered stuff, the hosties are surprised that they all turn it down.

"There's not much more they could do to be at their best tomorrow."

Benson has made only one change to his starting side from the team that crushed England in the semi-final, with former Australian rugby sevens representative Raecene McGregor preferred at halfback over Georgia Hale.

It will be the last game for retiring skipper Laura Mariu, who's ending her 17-year international rugby league career after the World Cup.

Benson was confident they could turn the tables despite admitting he couldn't spot a single flaw to exploit in the Jillaroos, who are seeking to complete an unbeaten 2017.

"I'm pretty sure if we can get our game together and play 80 minutes, no one can stay with us," Benson said.

NZ team: Apii Nicholls-Pualau, Atawhai Tupaea, Maitua Feterika, Shontelle Woodman, Honey Hireme, Raecene McGregor, Kimiora Nati, Lilieta Maumau, Krystal Rota, Aieshaleigh Smalley, Teuila Fotu-Moala, Hilda Peters, Laura Mariu (capt). Interchange: Nita Maynard, Krystal Murray, Ngatokotoru Arakua, Amber Kani, Georgia Hale, Louisa Gago.

Source: AAP

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