Harris provides touch of concern

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The Independent Online

New Zealand's coach Frank Endacott will not enter the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff today on the blind side of the dangers posed by one of Wales' players, despite the hosts' narrow, 24-22 win over unfancied Lebanon on Thursday. One man in particular will require his attention, the skipper Iestyn Harris.

New Zealand's coach Frank Endacott will not enter the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff today on the blind side of the dangers posed by one of Wales' players, despite the hosts' narrow, 24-22 win over unfancied Lebanon on Thursday. One man in particular will require his attention, the skipper Iestyn Harris.

Endacott has identified the skilful Leeds Rhinos stand-off as the greatest obstacle in the path of his second favourites' progress in the Lincoln Finan-cial World Cup. "He is the linchpin," he said. "I have studied him a lot since I have been over here and that information will help our national side.

"The first time I ever saw Iestyn Harris was in 1993 when I brought the Junior Kiwis over and he was in the Junior Lions, as was Andy Farrell, Simon Haughton and a few others. I picked him then as a player of extreme promise.

"He has the ability to mesmerise defenders because he holds the ball in two hands," said the Wigan coach. "But he has got to have runners who understand him, otherwise he will get caught and be put under a lot of pressure."

New Zealand recall Henry Paul, who was rested against the Cook Islands on Thursday but comes in for Tasesa Lavea, who broke his Test record of 26 points. Harris is relishing the clash with his Bradford Bulls opposite number despite ending on the losing side in four out of five club matches this year.

"I've had many a battle with him, he is a great player," said Harris. "I've a lot of respect for him. Playing against good players tests you and he certainly does. It's always a good tussle. I am looking forward to it."

"Our main aim was to get through the group and to the quarter-finals. We have done that, although not in the way we wanted to. It was a poor performance on Thursday and we will have to raise our game.

"New Zealand are a very tough side," he added. "They will not be too bothered about us, but it's a big game for us and on our own turf, I am sure we can catch them on the blind side if we get everything right. You always raise your game when you play better sides."

Endacott may be bothered a little by Harris and company. "Wales will be a different team against us, that's for sure," he admitted. "They know that we are their big game. It's played in the big stadium and they are going to have a lot of passionate people behind them."

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