COACH Mal Meninga feels Australia will go into next year’s World Cup in “good shape” following their Four Nations triumph.
The Kangaroos regained the trophy – and top spot in the world rankings – with a comprehensive 34-8 victory over previous holders New Zealand in yesterday’s final at Anfield.
The series win will make Meninga’s side hot favourites to retain their world title next year and he said: “I am extremely happy for the players, the effort they put in.
“Not only today, but throughout the whole campaign they really bought into everything and took ownership of what we are trying to achieve.
“I thought we developed our performances really well, building up to what I thought was a great performance.
“Sitting back and watching these guys is a real pleasure.”
Australia captain Cameron Smith said yesterday’s win was “up there” with the other successes of his glittering career.
“We have a lot of new faces in our squad and a new coaching staff, but it has been a seamless transition,” he said.
“The boys have had a fantastic attitude. It is one of the happiest, content and tight-knit groups I’ve been involved in and that’s showed in our results.”
Kiwi coach David Kidwell blamed his team’s defeat on errors early in the game.
“In the first half we completed below 50 per cent,” he said.
“You can’t do that in any game, especially in a final against a team like Australia.
“They got out to a lead that was untouchable.
“We have got some disappointed people in our group.
“We have got to make sure in the next Test we play we don’t put out a performance like that,” he said.
New Zealand captain Jesse Bromwich echoed his coach’s disappointment.
“We just weren’t up to our standards,” he conceded.
“Seven errors in the first 20 minutes really hurt us and we never recovered from that.
“I don’t know if I’ve played in a game when we’ve done that before. You can’t do that at this level, it’s too tough.
“We wanted to do ourselves justice, but we’ll come back stronger.”