Slater eyes flying start
Aussies target early victory at the Stoop
Last Updated: 24/10/09 9:54am
Slater: Title hopes
Australia full-back Billy Slater has called for a lightning start to the Gillette Four Nations when the Kangaroos kick off their campaign against New Zealand at the Twickenham Stoop.
The trans-Tasman rivals clash on Saturday night in what is the second match of the competition following England's 34-12 win on Friday night.
Each team meets just once with the top two nations competing in the November 14 final at Elland Road.
And Slater has highlighted the importance of an early victory against the Kiwis.
"We want to get off to a good start and play some good football in this tournament," said Slater.
"It's only a short tournament, so we don't have too much time to gel as a team - and we'll be looking to do that straightaway."
Slater, 26, was in the Australian side that crashed to a shock 34-20 defeat at the hands of the Kiwis in Brisbane last November, and admits that result may be at the back of some players' minds.
"The World Cup was last year - this is the 'Quad Nations' and it's a totally different thing," he said.
"But for the guys in the World Cup side. it's certainly in the back of your mind - and you don't forget that sort of defeat very easily.
"I'm sure there is a bit of motivation for those lads involved in that game, but there are a lot of new lads in this side that weren't in the World Cup squad as well.
"It's massive game against the Kiwis. They are the current world champions, and we'll need to put in a good performance to compete with them."
While New Zealand have had the benefit of a warm-up match against Tonga, Australia coach Tim Sheens reported his side's preparations were at "sixes and sevens" until several injury doubts cleared up.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney is taking little notice of the comments of his opposite number, and insists the Kangaroos remain the firm favourites.
"I think he's tossing out a few smokescreens there," he said. "Every time you play Australia, it's a big contest.
"You know what you're getting. But you've got to play them at some stage of the tournament - so why not first up?"