Holders anticipate a physical Samoan test

NEW Zealand’s Bryson Goodwin expects a physical challenge from Samoa in their opening World Cup match at Warrington tomorrow – after admitting this time last year he thought he would not even make it to the tournament.

The South Sydney winger – then playing for Canterbury Bulldogs – suffered a ruptured spleen last May that left him in intensive care with big concerns over his future.

But the 27-year-old recovered sufficiently to feature prominently alongside the Dewsbury-born Burgess brothers at Souths this term and earn that Kiwi call-up.

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“I feel on top of the world right now,” said Goodwin, as the holders prepared for the defence of their title.

“I am really pleased to be back representing New Zealand again and playing for the Kiwis, so I am just trying to make the most of it and have a good time.

“I didn’t think I would be here this time a year ago, but I started playing at Souths, started working with the coaches there, and they gave me a lot of confidence.

“It will be a very physical game against Samoa. They are always tough to play against so we will be up for it.”

Though ex-Wigan Warriors scrum-half Thomas Leuluai is out with a groin injury, marquee man Sonny Bill Williams has been named in the squad underlining the star quality in New Zealand’s ranks and another familiar face here is former Leeds Rhinos second-row Greg Eastwood.

“No position is safe,” admitted Goodwin.

“You have to play well each week otherwise someone will take your spot.

“It brings a quality to the training because everyone is fighting for a position and you need to train well to play well, plus everyone wants to show their worth.

“There is so much depth and talent in this squad, so we have got a good chance if we play well.”

New Zealand rounded off their preparations with a commanding warm-up match win over Cook Islands, beating them 50-0.