New Zealand captain relishing final
Thursday 11 November 2010
New Zealand's Benji Marshall is ready to cope with the pressure of single-handedly spearheading his side's challenge in Saturday's Four Nations final against Australia at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
The Wests Tigers stand-off was the pick of the Kiwis side in their disappointing 34-20 defeat by the Kangaroos in Auckland last Saturday, giving the raucous Eden Park crowd something to cheer with moments of flair near the end to create consolation tries for Jason Nightingale and Shaun Kenny-Dowall.
Marshall knows he will be a marked man on Saturday but told a news conference at the Suncorp Stadium today that he will not shirk his responsibilities.
"I'm an integral part of our team and my job is a major factor in how the the team goes," he said.
"For me, I'm not worried about what anyone else is doing, I've just got to do my job for the team."
As his club coach, Australia boss Tim Sheens has all the inside knowledge he needs to attempt to combat the Kiwis' chief playmaker.
"I know Benji pretty well," he said. "I know what he'll do. He'll run more and our job will be trying to stop him from running more."
The Australians are firm favourites to retain their crown but Sheens is not reading too much into last Saturday's warm-up contest.
"The scoreline was not indicative," he said. "A couple of little things worked for us early but there wasn't that much in the game. We know it and I think the Kiwis know it too."
Marshall will not be the only danger man for the Kangaroos, according to Matt Scott, who has pinpointed former Leeds forward Greg Eastwood as a threat.
Scott made his Test debut in Australia's win at Eden Park but says it will be a whole new ball game on Saturday, predicting the Kiwis would take a boost from the promotion of Eastwood from the bench.
"I heard Greg Eastwood was starting prop and I'm sure he'll be the one to watch," said Scott.
"He had a great impact off the bench at the weekend and he'll probably be looking to play that same sort of role.
"He can put in the big hits. He's a big boy, a solid defender, he's got really good footwork around the ruck and he caused us a few problems over there last weekend."
Australia winger Lote Tuqiri is another who feels the promotion of Eastwood gives a clear indication of New Zealand's intentions.
"He certainly played well when he came on last week," said Tuqiri. "He's a bit of a handful to tackle and he's obviously got a good offload as well.
"He's not a softie. They've made their intentions known by picking him there."
Meanwhile, the international career of veteran Kangaroos prop Petero Civoniceva could be at an end after he was omitted from Sheens' line-up.
After failing to meet his own high standards through the first three games of the tournament, the 34-year-old warhorse, who has won 44 caps, volunteered to take himself out of the running for selection for Saturday's decider.
Sheens has yet to officially announce his final 17 but he confirmed that Civoniceva has not made the cut and it would be Nate Myles joining the bench as a front-row option.
"He basically said to me that I couldn't pick him, which was a big thing to say, a big statement from the guy," said Sheens.
"I've met few people like him. He hasn't been the rock of Queensland (for no reason). Certainly by standing down he's shown what sort of a character he is."
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