Australia loose forward Anthony Watmough believes his side are fully prepared for a Kiwis backlash when the southern hemisphere giants get the Gillette Four Nations Series under way in Warrington tonight.
The Kangaroos take on New Zealand less than a fortnight after beating them 42-6 in Newcastle, but Watmough insists any prospect of complacency was erased within seconds of the final whistle at Ausgrid Stadium.
“As soon as the game finished we got in a huddle and spoke about how they were going to come out so much more fired up next time,” Watmough said.
“We’re preparing like we prepare every time we play New Zealand, it will be a very tough battle.”
New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney has made two changes for the rematch, replacing the suspended Russell Packer with Ben Matulino and recalling Wigan half-back or hooker Thomas Leuluai for his 28th cap.
Manly’s Watmough has already got the better of Matulino this month courtesy of his side’s NRL Grand Final triumph over the New Zealand Warriors, but is full of respect for the 22-year-old from Wellington.
“His form leading up to the Grand Final was amazing,” Watmough said.
“Some of his hits and carries were top notch and we’ll have our work cut out with him.”
Unsurprisingly, Australia coach Tim Sheens opted to name an unchanged team, holding back centre Greg Inglis for the Wembley clash with England, but Watmough admits he was fretting over the announcement.
The 28-year-old back rower made his debut for the Kangaroos in the 2008 World Cup but missed out on the Anzac Test earlier this year as well as last season’s Four Nations after a dip of form.
Watmough was back to his best in the second half of the season with both the Sea Eagles and New South Wales, however, and is determined to savour his recall to the international scene.
“I was a bit nervous up to yesterday because Tim had kept his cards close to his chest and there are so many quality guys waiting in the wings,” he said.
New Hull KR coach Craig Sandercock has returned to his old club Newcastle Knights to sign back-row Constantine Mika, 22, on a two-year contract.
The 22-year-old Auckland-born Junior Kiwi international was poised to join Castleford until Rovers made a late move and he opted to follow Sandercock to Craven Park. Mika becomes Rovers’ sixth forward recruit for 2012 and, subject to receiving a work permit in time, will link up fellow newcomers Ryan O’Hara, Mickey Paea, Graeme Horne, Keal Carlile and Lincoln Withers.
Bradford Bulls scrum-half Cain Southernwood, 19, has signed for Championship club Dewsbury on a season-long loan and could be joined by 22-year-old prop Steve Crossley who has been released at Odsal due to a lack of first-team opportunities.