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Sheens tells Roos to rise to occasion
October 20, 2009 - 5:59AM
Australian rugby league coach Tim Sheens has challenged his players to live up to their status as favourites to win the inaugural Four Nations.
Hailed as one of the best sides to leave Australia’s shores, the Kangaroos are expected to win the tournament, which also features co-hosts England and France, and world champions New Zealand, who they meet in their opening match.
“We knew the bookies would make us favourites, but we’ve got to play under that expectation,” Sheens said at the tournament launch in Leeds on Monday.
"What the bookies say, what the crowd thinks, and what actually happens on the football field are often two different things. It’s being able to play with that expectation and certainly play with the fact that we’re supposed to win it.
“We haven’t had many of the boys tour. The conditions, the set-up over here, the travelling, lots of things can play against you, so we’ve got plenty of work to do.”
New Zealand beat Australia 24-0 in the 2005 Tri-Nations final, also in Leeds.
The Kangaroos restored some pride after their 2008 World Cup final defeat to their arch rivals with a convincing 38-10 Test victory in May.
But last year’s loss still cuts deep and Australia are likely to have further pay-back on their agenda when the teams play at Twickenham Stoop in London on Saturday.
“We know each other pretty well so we know what to expect from one another,” Sheens said.
“We’ve lost key games to them on enough occasions to realise it’s going to be a very, very tough game.”
England are second-favourites ahead of the Kiwis, but New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney is comfortable with the underdog tag.
“I don’t think the group are a bunch of betting blokes anyway and, in all honesty, Australia will start any tournament as favourite,” Kearney said.
"Given England are playing on home soil, and I look at their good players and I’m thinking, ‘Rightly so they deserve to be second-favourites’. From our point of view, that doesn’t trouble us.
"We’ve had a number of injuries this year, certainly towards the back end of the season.
“We’ve given some younger guys an opportunity. They’re young guys who I think have got a lot of potential… I’m hopeful the tour will simply bring some of their talents out.”