Kiwis hope built friendships shows during games

CLOSE KIWIS: The Kiwis have formed a tight unit, says Dean Whare.
CLOSE KIWIS: The Kiwis have formed a tight unit, says Dean Whare.

The Kiwis have missed their families while on tour but Dean Whare says they're all going to miss each other once this tournament is over.

Living in each other's pockets for so long has brought the players close and Whare admits that it will take a while to get back to normal life once they're back home.

"We've built a good little family here for the last couple of months, everyone's pretty close and as most of the boys don't have any family here, that brings us closer together," Whare said.

"We hang with each other 24/7 and hopefully that's translating out on the field."

It was Whare's sensational pass to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck against England at Wembley that played a huge part in the Kiwis making it to the final.

Issac Luke overthrew his pass to Whare, who was waiting on the wing. With the ball already beyond the line, Whare managed to reach out and flick the ball back to Tuivasa-Sheck with most of his body out of play, crucially though, he did it all without putting a foot on the ground.

This trip will come to an end after the final against Australia, which kicks off at 3.30am Sunday morning (NZ time) and Whare says there have been lifelong bonds formed on this trip.

"Of course I miss my family, but I'm sure when I get back I'll miss the boys after being away with them for two months," he said.

"I'm missing my little daughter, I'll get back just in time for her first birthday and that's one thing I didn't want to miss.

"My family have backed me and given me support ever since I started playing rugby league, so I'm doing this for them and especially my grandparents, who brought me up and came to every game in New Zealand when I was playing over there.

"I am definitely trying to make my family proud, but also my country, I'm trying to win this World Cup for them.

"The players in this group are pretty confident and hopefully we do well."

One player who Whare will be able to continue his new friendship with is Panthers-bound Elijah Taylor, who has left the Warriors to join the western Sydney club.

Taylor spent time before the World Cup checking out the area and Whare says he was able to give him some advice.

"I've given him pointers about where all the boys stay and the good areas around there," he said.

"I think he might move to where I'm living and there's around eight or nine of us in the same area.

"Everyone's pretty close at the Panthers, I've still got another year left on my contract there and hopefully I'll play some good footy for them next season."

Whare is something of an unsung hero of this Kiwis team.

He doesn't have the x-factor label attached to him that the likes of Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Sonny Bill Williams, Shaun Johnson and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves have, but he has been one of the key performers in the squad.

He won the man-of-the-match award in the game against Samoa and his flick pass at Wembley was one of the most stunning individual moments of this World Cup.

So while that connection between the players will stand the test of time, that pass will live long in the memories of league fans also.

Fairfax Media