PANTHER PRIDE | A big win for the mountain men tonight has them firmly entrenched in the top eight, ...
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Injured Australian utility Craig Wing says he's in no doubt for Saturday's Tri Nations final with New Zealand at Elland Road. Coach Wayne Bennett seemed concerned by Wing's sternum injury which caused him problems late in Australia's 26-14 Test win over Great Britain last weekend.
But the creative Wing - pulled into the touring team from holidays in Hawaii after injuries to Nathan Hindmarsh and skipper Darren Lockyer - says the injury won't stop him playing if he's picked when Bennett trims his 19-man squad to 17 players later in the week.
New Zealand received a massive boost overnight with confirmation champion halfback Stacey Jones will rush back from the birth of his third child in Auckland to play for the Kiwis in the big final.
Talking tactics, Australia will attempt to close down New Zealand's dangerous second phase play in the Tri Nations final at Elland Road, which will be played early Sunday morning Australian time.
Locking up the football carrier has become a priority for Australia in their build-up to their Tri Nations defence. The Kiwis are regarded as rugby league's masters of the off-load which sets up second phase play.
Kiwi coach Brian McClennan believes his players are the best in the world at off-loading the ball at the defensive line.
Australian coach Wayne Bennett says the Kiwis are big and physical and every play can unload in tackles. Bennett says Australia will respect the footwork, size and high skill level of their opponents in the final.
Meanwhile, less than a day after being named international referee of the year Tim Mander has been overlooked for Saturday's Tri Nations final between Australia and New Zealand at Elland Road.
Englishman Steve Ganson, who was third in the award Mander carried off at the Golden Boot presentation, has landed the prized appointment.
Tickets for Saturday's final moved past 25,000 today although unfortunately for Australia a cold snap is on the way with the possibility of sleet and snow by the weekend.