Skipper Cameron Smith has nominated Jason Taumalolo as the player the Kangaroos need to stop if they are to break a three-match losing streak against the Kiwis.
North Queensland back-rower Taumalolo has been a key figure in the NRL side’s success. That has been mirrored in his role with New Zealand.
With New Zealand missing Kieran Foran for Friday night’s Test against Australia in Newcastle, coach Stephen Kearney has made no secret of the fact his side will take on Australia up the middle throughout the game.
Smith knows Taumalolo is key there.
“Jason is in great form at the moment with the Cowboys and he has been playing really well for the last three seasons,” Smith said.
“They still have a good side even if they have a few guys missing.”
“Jason is a big powerful kid, there is no doubt about that.
“He can certainly create a lot of momentum for his team. We have a big challenge ahead of us in the middle with Jesse (Bromwich) and Adam Blair and a couple of guys coming off their bench.”
Smith comes up against his Melbourne teammate Bromwich in the leadership stakes.
“His appointment is very well deserved, I’m really happy for him to be leading out the team and hopefully he has a good game,” he said.
Smith said a number of the Kangaroos players were still hurt by their last start loss to the Kiwis in the trans-Tasman Test last year.
“It is always difficult to lose and but especially when you walk off the field disappointed about how you played,”Smith said.
“There would not be too many players who were happy with the way they played last time around.”