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Leuluai backing England

Kiwi half-back thinks Australia could be in for a Four Nations shock

Last Updated: 13/11/11 2:08pm

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Thomas Leuluai: impressed by England during Four Nations

Thomas Leuluai: impressed by England during Four Nations

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Wigan's New Zealand international Thomas Leuluai is tipping England to beat Australia in next Saturday's Gillette Four Nations final at Elland Road.

The Warriors hooker or half-back believes England will be unstoppable if they can stage a repeat of their performance that earned them a 28-6 victory over the Kiwis in the winner-takes-all clash in Hull.

"I'm definitely going for England," he said. "If they play like that and complete the sets like they did, they definitely have a chance of winning.

"They've got a great forward pack who dominated and, if they do that again, they've got a big chance."

Smart

New Zealand, who beat Australia in the 2010 final, went into their final group game as favourites but, after having an early try by Kieran Foran disallowed for offside, were rarely in the match.

Trailing 14-0, they briefly threatened a fightback when winger Jason Nightingale touched down for the third successive match, with Benji Marshall's touchline conversion cutting the deficit to just eight points, but England finished strongly to maintain their supremacy in these fixtures.

The Kiwis have now won just one of their last 12 internationals against England or Great Britain in the United Kingdom.

Leuluai added: "We weren't at our best but you can't take anything away from England. They were definitely the better team and deserved to win.

"They might have surprised some of the other boys but not me. I knew they could play. I knew their forwards were going to be hard to handle.

"They controlled a lot of the possession in the first half and took a lot of juice out of us. We couldn't get field position. That's credit to England. I thought they played really smart."

"They've got a great forward pack who dominated and, if they do that again, they've got a big chance."
Thomas Leuluai Quotes of the week

Leuluai's Wigan team-mate Sam Tomkins was a constant thorn in New Zealand's side with his clever footwork and mazy running, and he finished the rout with England's fourth try.

Leuluai, who won his 30th cap for the Kiwis to go in front of his father James, had warned his team-mates of the danger posed by Tomkins but believes it is England's forwards who hold the key to victory over the Kangaroos.

"I tried to tell them (about Tomkins)," he said. "You can them all you want but trying to stop him is a different story.

"Everyone watched a video on him all week and watched what he can do but we couldn't stop him.

"He's special player. I suppose I found out that I'm glad he's on my side and I'm not playing against him. He was pretty hard to handle.

"He's definitely going to be one of the main threats but, for me, if their forward pack dominate like that, Sam's going to have the time and space. If they don't dominate, Sam is going to get cut down.

"The key is most probably going to be their pack. They were awesome. They have experienced war horses, players that have been around for a while, but they taught us a lesson around the middle."

Discipline

New Zealand paid for some poor discipline and their misery could be compounded further by the international match-review panel if they decide to hand out punishments to the three players put on report by referee Matt Cecchin.

Ben Matulino and Jeremy Smith were pulled up for foul play on Tomkins and hooker Issac Luke, who has already received a caution in the tournament for dangerous play, was reported for twisting the legs of Rangi Chase.

Chase, a former Junior Kiwi who caused controversy by switching his allegiance to England, appeared to be a constant target but Leuluai denied New Zealand had a plan to unsettle the Super League Man of Steel.

"No we didn't," he said. "We didn't even talk about it. It's the way the game goes.

"There was a thing with the boys who played with him a bit. His decision was a bit disappointing but, from a personal point of view, I don't have a problem with it."

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