Cleary leaps to the defence of Kiwis' centres
DAVID LONG IN MANCHESTER
Assistant coach Ivan Cleary has defended Kiwis' centres ahead of the Rugby League World Cup final at Old Trafford.
British and Australian media have labelled Dean Whare and Bryson Goodwin as the New Zealand weak links, stating neither are as good as Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne, who will likely wear the No 3 and 4 jerseys for Australia.
Cleary insists that while Whare and Goodwin aren't big name players with great reputations like Inglis and Hayne, they both do the job needed for the Kiwis.
"The two boys in the Aussies, they're two pretty fine players who've played a lot of rep footy and our guys are still relatively new," Cleary told Fairfax Media on the eve of the game, which kicks off at 3.30am (NZ time).
"Bryson and Dean have played particularly well at this tournament and going into tomorrow's game they're really important members of our team.
"Tomorrow isn't going to necessarily won by who's got the best players, it will be the best team that comes together that wins."
The team went through their captain's run without any hitch overnight.
Manu Vatuvei and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck both took part, while Jason Nightingale along with Greg Eastwood were among the players who won't be part of the match day 17.
Cleary felt the players were a too much in awe of playing at Wembley Stadium last week, but he felt they were more relaxed about being inside Old Trafford this week.
"It is pretty exciting coming here, there's a lot of history behind it and it's a great colosseum," Cleary said.
"It was good to go through that at Wembley last week.
"It seems less like a school trip today as it did last week, but by the same token it's a great opportunity and they should feel privileged to play here."
Cleary said the team would keep their build-up to the game low key. As usual, they will have a team dinner where the jerseys will be presented to the players.
"When you get inside the 24-hour period all the physical preparation is done and it's trying to relax and mentally go through things," Cleary said.
"It is a good time for the boys, everything's been done, it's now a case of playing the game. We will just go through the same preparation we've done for every game.
"They are obviously professionals and go through this sort of thing every week. We've got a routine going on the tour now and we're not going to change that."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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