Atmosphere won't faze us

Australia captain Danny Buderus has thrown down a challenge to the home crowd ahead of Saturday's must-win Gillette Tri-Nations clash with Great Britain in Hull.

The last group match, which will decide next week's finalists, is heading for a 25,000 sell-out at the KC Stadium and the Kangaroos are bracing themselves for an intimidating atmosphere.

"The Hull people love their rugby league and I'm sure they will get behind the players," said Lions coach Brian Noble, who urged supporters to "stoke up the fires and make it a vociferous, violent and angry-against-Australia-type stadium".

Hull's trio of internationals Richard Horne, debutant Gareth Raynor and Jamie Thackray have all warned the Aussies to expect a hot reception from some of the most fanatical supporters in the game but Buderus says his team will lap it up.

"The more the better," he said. "The boys couldn't get over the atmosphere at the JJB, it was something we'll always remember.

"It had everything, the atmosphere, the cold, the wet, it was dark and foggy, and the crowd was a big factor. They're just tremendous over here, they get right into it."

Australia coach Wayne Bennett, a passionate supporter of the international game, insists his team are motivated by a fiercely partisan crowd, pointing to their recent 20-6 win over Britain in front of a noisy full house at Wigan's JJB Stadium.

"We love it," he said. "It helps you play good when there's a lot of excitement and a lot of atmosphere.

"That's what you want when you play at this level, you don't want to play in half-empty stadiums where no-one cares.

"It won't be a problem, I don't think it?s been a problem in the past. Wigan is about as intimidating as you're going to get. Our guys get up for it. They enjoy it because we don't get that type of atmosphere at home."

Both Buderus, who has taken over the captaincy from the injured Darren Lockyer, and full-back Anthony Minichiello have fond memories of the KC Stadium, where they helped Australia come from 20-8 down to win 23-20 in the second Test to clinch the 2003 Ashes Series.

"It's a good ground and I love it over here," said Minichiello. "It's a great atmosphere and the crowd get behind their team. The stadiums are really close to the ground, they're exciting to play at."

Australia go into the game needing a win of any kind to book their place against New Zealand in next week's final but know that a defeat by more than eight points will send them tumbling out of the tournament.

They remain favourites to retain their trophy but Bennett is expecting as close a game as the one between the two sides at Wigan, where the Aussies were clinging to an 8-6 lead for most of the second half before striking with two late tries.

"That game could have gone their way," he admitted. "We could easily have lost by two points. I'm sure Saturday night is going to be the same, it will be nip and tuck all the way."

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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this article/report/news/story.

More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130