Irishman Carney Tri-Nations Star

Brian Carney, two-try hero of Great Britain's 26-24 victory over New Zealand, is urging his team-mates to seize the opportunity to be crowned world champions.

Britain go into Saturday's Gillette Tri-Nations Series final on the back of three successive wins, their best run for a decade, and have the chance to end 34 years of hurt when they take on Australia at Elland Road.

Although the Ashes are not at stake, Britain have the chance to beat the old enemy in a Test series for the first time since Johnny Whiteley's Lions returned triumphantly from the 1970 tour of Australia.

"We know it's a huge opportunity," said Carney. "We stand on the doorstep of something huge and we don't want to let that opportunity slip away."

Britain were not at their best in the "dead rubber" against the Kiwis on a freezing night at the KC Stadium in Hull but Carney is confident the intensity will lift for the big one.

Coach Brian Noble also has the luxury of being able to bring back the five players rested for the last round-robin match, including hooker Terry Newton who will be needed to replace unlucky knee-injury victim Matt Diskin.

Britain were staring at a surprise defeat when breakaway tries from Vinnie Anderson and Nigel Vagana helped the Kiwis to a 12-4 interval lead but they turned the game on its head with four tries in a decisive 17-minute spell.

Carney led the way, scoring two of them and unselfishly sending substitute Paul Johnson over for another, while skipper Andy Farrell scored the other try and kicked three goals.

Alex Chan and Shontayne Hape grabbed late consolation tries to take some of the shine off Britain's victory but Carney insists there were more plusses than minuses.

"It was important we got a win because wins do breed confidence," he said. "It is a lot easier to go into the week leading up to the final with a win under our belts.

"There were parts of the performance we were not happy with - we can't play like that in the final and hope to win - but the parts where we attacked were very good.

"We will bring a few guys back next week and we will up everything."

Carney, who has been short-listed for back of the year at tonight's inaugural international awards night in Leeds, was a popular winner of the man-of-the-match award.

The brilliant displays of the whole-hearted Wigan winger have completely justified the risk taken by Noble after the player had been restricted to just 10 appearances for his club this year due to a succession of injuries.

"I am happy with the faith Nobbie showed in me and I don't want to let him down," said Carney, adding modestly: "I don't think I have so far.

"I want to push forward. I enjoy playing with these people and for this team. We are playing for people who have gone before us and not got the Test results.

"But nothing is achieved yet and, if we don't win on Saturday, it's still a competition where we have come close but not close enough."

Meanwhile, Farrell, his Australian counterpart Darren Lockyer and veteran Kangaroo prop Shane Webcke have emerged as front-runners for the 2004 Gillette Golden Boot award which will be announced tonight.

Farrell, the 2004 Super League Man of Steel, is hoping to become only the second British recipient of the prestigious award, which is presented annually by Rugby League World magazine to the outstanding international player of the year.

The Wigan forward is also nominated as forward of the year, along with Webcke and Bradford prop Stuart Fielden.

Lockyer made a successful comeback from a broken rib in his side's 52-30 win over France yesterday and is sure to be named in the Australia team at stand-off but prop forward Jason Ryles was ruled out of the final after suffering a recurrence of his hamstring injury.

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