New Zealand co-captain Issac Luke is expecting defence to play a huge role again in the third and final rugby league Test against England.
The Kiwis head into the decider in Wigan on Sunday morning (AEDT) having squared the series when they ground out a 9-2 win at London’s Olympic Stadium last weekend.
It was a match the tourists dominated, but England showed plenty of resilience in keeping their line intact apart from winger Shaun Kenny-Dowall’s try early in the second half.
The tourists, having conceded four tries in their 26-12 defeat in the opening Test in Hull, have taken heart from the lift in intensity in their own defensive effort to restrict their hosts to a solitary penalty goal.
“There were only 11 points in the whole game and both teams were really on the ball with their defence,” Luke said.
“I expect it’s going to be the same this week. Both teams aren’t going to let each other over the line.”
The 35-Test South Sydney hooker, who is heading to the Warriors next season, didn’t concur with the opinion of some critics of the low-scoring encounter.
He said he had heard some people describe the match as boring, but “when teams can’t score, it makes it more exciting”.
With regular skipper Simon Mannering ruled out before the tour because of a lingering gastric complaint, 28-year-old Luke and Brisbane forward Adam Blair were handed the co-captaincy for the tour.
It’s a responsibility Luke has enjoyed and one he believes he’s growing in.
“I have to make sure I’m leading in the right way,” he said.
“In first game, I thought I didn’t do my job properly. In the second, I managed to do what I could to be able to lead the boys.”