TURBULENT TIGERS | Wests Tigers' 2016 season was... interesting.
From the demotion and eventual dep...
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Brian Carney, Great Britain?s popular vice-captain who redeemed himself for a poor start to the Gillette Tri-Nations campaign, is ready to take everything the Kiwis throw at him - or more accurately kick to him.
The 29-year-old Irishman bounced back from his self-confessed "debacle" in Britain?s opening 42-26 defeat by New Zealand with a courageously impressive display in their 20-6 defeat by Australia at Wigan last Saturday.
Carney knows the Kiwis will be aiming to target him again with a series of high balls in Saturday?s crunch game at Huddersfield but he is prepared for an aerial bombardment.
"It?s part of the job of a winger," he said. "A cop doesn?t expect to go a day?s work without meeting criminals, a big forward is going to expect somebody small and fast to run at him in big games and a winger is going to expect high balls. You practise all the time for them."
New Zealand have suffered a body blow with the loss of utility player Lance Hohaia, who had been earmarked to fill the boots of the departed Stacey Jones until tearing ankle ligaments in the final act of his comeback against England last Sunday.
Unless Jones, currently training with his new club Les Catalans in Perpignan, can be persuaded to make another return to the international stage, Hull?s Motu Tony could be the man hoisting the "bombs" at Huddersfield?s Galpharm Stadium on Saturday after Hohaia was ruled out of the rest of the series.
But the Kiwis still have winger Manu Vatuvei, the teenager who terrorised Carney at Loftus Road a fortnight ago with his explosive running.
The 6ft, 17st Vatuvei, who has been variously described as a cross between Jonah Lomu, Wendell Sailor and Kevin Iro, scored one try and had two others disallowed by the video referee after seizing the opportunity presented to him by the withdrawal of Lesley Vainikolo.
"He?s a big human being but they all are across the park," said Carney. "He?s not too dissimilar to Vainikolo. There are a couple of inches difference in height but they are both big men and good players.
"One of New Zealand?s key strengths is their size and their physical presence but you?ve got to cope with that. It?s not like you turn up on the day and are shocked by the fact they?re big men. You know that before you go into the game so it?s not going to be a major issue."
Carney was more like his old self at the JJB Stadium, hungry for possession and running the ball out of defence with confidence, but he refused to take any personal satisfaction from the performance.
"It?s more how you go as a team that dominates your thinking so it?s one of disappointment," he said. "It?s a team sport and we?ve had two games and two losses.
"It was important for me to play near to what I can do. But, at the end of the day, we ended up losing a Test match. That?s the overwhelming disappointment."
Still without a win, Britain must beat both their rivals over the next 10 days and score enough tries to overturn a points deficit of 36 on Australia but Carney warns against throwing caution to the wind.
"All we can do is go out and try and win the games," he said. "If the things that you?ve practised all week come off, you win the game. Sometimes you win it comfortably but you don?t ever go out to plan to get a certain amount of points, it doesn?t work that way.
"You will see people win games by 30 or 40 points but they won?t have taken risks in the game. It?s not the way things work in rugby league nor many other sports either. It?s very very hard to force a game and to chase points."
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Thanks to www.superleague.co.uk for this story.