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Daniel Anderson Is Odd Man Out
He had eight of his team for company when the Kiwis rugby league squad came together, but one New Zealand Warrior felt oddly out of place as the medicals were passed and new playing kit issued.
While the test-hardened pack to confront Australia on Friday were rubbed down in a Bondi hotel, Daniel Anderson, the man tasked with masterminding a plan to derail the world champions, meandered to and from the conference room seemingly out of the loop.
"All the other boys are best mates, good buddies ... they've gelled and I guess I've got to find a place for me in the social scheme of things, I'm the debutant here," Anderson explained.
"It's like I was just hanging around in the recovery session and the medicals. It was a `get to know' you couple of days."
It took until he ran twin training sessions at the Randwick Army Barracks yesterday before Anderson felt at ease in his surroundings.
"The training was good and I'm very comfortable."
One aspect of the Sydneysider's new international coaching career that he has no difficulty with is trying to beat his homeland.
He had no qualms when the Warriors made last year's National Rugby League (NRL) grand final against Mum and Dad's beloved Sydney Roosters, although Aussie v Kiwi rivalry at international level has more than competition points and premierships at stake.
"I haven't spoken to my parents about it yet but I think they'll be all right," said Anderson when quizzed by Australian media.
"My daughters go to school in Auckland, they know the national anthem and sing it at home. It's pretty well known in New Zealand there is a little bit of Maori blood back there. I haven't got a family tree or anything but I think it's about 1/8th."
Anderson is also vague on international and New Zealand league history, although former Kiwis are attempting to indoctrinate him through historical footage.
"I guess like everyone, I was captivated by State of Origin but I watched a lot of test football as a young bloke.
"I don't recall the games as much as the individuals ? everyone remembers (the celebrated '80s sideline stoush between) Greg Dowling and Kevin ... Tamati ? the confrontation of it all."
"I've watched tapes on (assistant coach) Tony Kemp and James Leuluai, Olsen Filipaina, Matthew Ridge, Daryl Williams ... it was very entertaining. Between Kempies hairdo and his goalkicking ability we had a fair amount of laughs."
On a serious note, pep talks by 1980s five-eighth Filipaina to the Warriors last month and former prop Brent Todd, who addressed the Kiwis on Sunday, gave Anderson "a greater appreciation" for wearers of the black jersey.
Bookmakers have the Kiwis as outsiders, some pundits are picking a 20-point margin, but Anderson says plans are slipping into place.
"We're going to have to play good football to beat Australia but when you get a heap of players who are totally motivated and any number of leaders are already in the team you're in reasonably good shape."