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17 hours ago
Kiwi prop Nathan Cayless believes emotion and adrenalin will overcome any lack of match fitness when he resumes his international career against Australia in Auckland on Saturday.
The Parramatta skipper is the only member of the 17-strong New Zealand squad not to have taken part in the NRL playoffs.
Earlier in the season, he had been sidelined for four months with a broken arm, returning to play with only four rounds of the regular season left.
"I feel pretty good; I feel fresher after not having played much footy," he said.
"I did a lot of hard work over the last five weeks with our trainer.
I was very keen to get back into the New Zealand team.
Now that I'm in, I can't wait to get out there."
Cayless admitted that match fitness was different from general fitness.
"However, it's going to be a big occasion, and adrenaline and stuff should see me through."
Cayless, 25, made his debut for the Kiwis back in 1998, but the upcoming trans-Tasman clash at North Harbour Stadium will be a new experience for him ? and for brother Jason, 23.
The pair are coach Daniel Anderson's starting props. The brothers were together at the Eels before Jason moved to the Sydney Roosters two seasons ago and on to two grand final appearances.
Jason made his only test appearance against France during last year's Northern Hemisphere tour, which Nathan withdrew from so he could have surgery for a knee injury.
Both missed the 48-6 drubbing handed out by the Kangaroos when the teams met in Sydney three months ago.
"It's the first time ever," Nathan Cayless said.
"We didn't get a chance to do it at Parramatta.
"It's going to be a really special night.
"Mum and Dad are coming over, so it should be good."
Cayless was disappointed that two of the Kiwis' most experienced players ? halfback Stacey Jones and second rower Stephen Kearney ? would miss the match because of injury.
Both sides feature a number of changes, with the Australians also being without two key names.
Halfback Andrew Johns is injured, while second rower Gorden Tallis has retired from representative football.
"It's probably a bit of a sign of the future for the Kangaroos," Cayless said.
"But they still have a lot of experience with guys like Shane Webcke and Darren Lockyer."
He reported confidence amongst the Kiwis that they could reverse the result of the July test, held shortly after the State of Origin series.
"The big difference is that the Aussies were coming off a tough Origin series and they were match hardened," he said.
"Most of the Aussie team had come from the New South Wales side and they (had) been in camp for six weeks, whereas the Kiwis boys got together for a week. You can't compete with that."