Battered Kiwi players still under an injury cloud

DAVID LONG IN MANCHESTER
Last updated 10:30 27/11/2013
Frank Pritchard
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INJURY WORRIES: The Kiwis have two more players under injury clouds for Sunday morning's Rugby League World Cup final.

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The Kiwis have two more players under injury clouds for Sunday morning's Rugby League World Cup final against Australia.

Jared Waerea-Hargreaves had to quit the team's training session overnight (NZ time) in Leigh with a neck strain while Frank-Paul Nu'uausala didn't train at all because of a calf haemotoma.

They join Frank Pritchard (hamstring), Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (leg) and Manu Vatuvei (groin) who are in varying degrees of doubt for the game.

Tuivasa-Sheck did little more than throw the ball around with Thomas Leuluai at the training session, Pritchard did some jogging on his own, while Vatuvei did some sprinting before he joined the rest of the squad towards the end of the session.

Vatuvei will be assessed again tomorrow to see how he's pulled up from this session and it will be the same story for Tuivasa-Sheck, Pritchard and Nu'uausala.

Waerea-Hargreaves iced his neck after injuring it, but  the strain isn't believed to be too serious.

At this stage, Pritchard is the player least likely to be able to play in the final.

Meanwhile, Kiwis assistant coach Ivan Cleary admitted that New Zealand made too many errors against England last weekend and while they just managed to get away with it, they would need to be far more clinical against Australia.

"It was definitely a tough game and both sides threw plenty at each other," he said.

"But we understand that the Kangaroos aren't going to make the same sort of errors England did and we can't make as many as we did.

"It's about more accuracy in what we do."

The teams come into the final on the back of vastly differing games in the semifinals.

England gave the Kiwis the ultimate tune up at Wembley Stadium and while the players were badly beaten up in their 20-18 win, they are certainly match hardened.

Australia on the other hand, breezed their their semifinal against Fiji, winning it 64-0 and haven't played a side at the level of the Kiwis in more than a month.

So which team is in a better position?

"Obviously the tough game we played is a good thing to go through," Cleary said.

"Having said that, the Australian's week is probably a bit smoother. We have a few injuries and some pretty battered bodies.

"It's probably six of one and half a dozen of the other. Hopefully the game will be a tough one on Saturday and what we went through last week will put us in good stead for when the heat goes on."

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Cleary said there wouldn't be any need to get the players pumped up for what would be the biggest game of their lives at the weekend and if anything, they needed to temper that feeling and be a bit calmer.

"We were probably a little bit emotional on the weekend," he said.

"There's nothing wrong with being emotional, but it probably got the better of us a little bit. That leads to errors which we have to minimise.

"The boys will be very pumped for the game - there will be no doubt about that. It's not often you get a chance to play in a World Cup final.

"It's just about controlling your emotions. The players came up with that observation themselves. That's the best you can do.

"You need to have some emotion because it's going to be a great occasion but we just want to make sure we keep that in check and we aren't giving the Australians any leg-ups, because they are too good to be given any sort of advantage."

- © Fairfax NZ News

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