PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Steve Price returned "home" to enemy territory fearing an even hungrier New Zealand side would front up to the world champions in Friday night's second Tri-Nations match in Auckland.
Price said he dreaded to even contemplate the prospect of taking an unwanted place in history by being a member of the first Australian rugby league team in 27 years to lose two tests in a row.
He warned the Kangaroos to lift their game or face another result like Saturday night's 38-28 defeat at Telstra Stadium.
New Zealand has always struggled to string back-to-back performances together, but Price - who knows the Kiwis better than anyone in the Australian team - insisted complacency wouldn't be a factor under new coach Brian McClennan.
If anything, Price believed last week's victory would instil further confidence in the younger, less-experienced New Zealand players, setting the scene for an even greater challenge .
"The new coach is certainly bringing a really good attitude to the jersey.
That's something that's been a worry for a long time," Price said.
"There's been guys who say they won't play for the Kiwis and guys that will, and now he's really made it something to strive for.
"Something that they've done very well this time with the new coach is they've put a squad of 40 players together and they've been made to feel a part of it right from the start.
"They've trained together, they know everything that's going on and he's pretty much willing to play anyone in any position and give everybody a go.
"So they're competing for spots and every one of those guys that have come in are just as good as the ones going out.
"This is going to be just as tough, if anything tougher (than game one)."
Price said last year's Tri-Nations tournament, when New Zealand and Great Britain were both highly competitive before the Kangaroos again ultimately triumphed, should have been a wake-up call for Australia, which hasn't lost a test series since 1978.
"Everyone was expecting Australia to win last Friday and the Kiwis came out and beat us," said the veteran front rower.
"So what everyone's expectations are may be different to what reality is sometimes.
"I don't care what we win by, just as long as we win.
Potentially, they've shown what they can do too.
"If we don't play as well as we can and they play better than us, the result can go either way."
More info: www.tri-nations.com.au Discussion: Tri-Nations Forum at http://forums.leagueunlimited.com/forumdisplay.php?f=130