NRL great Cooper Cronk has taken aim at the attitude of the Kangaroos after their stunning 30-0 defeat at the hands of an inspired New Zealand team. The Kangaroos may have run away 36-18 winners in Australia the week earlier, but Michael Maguire's men were relentless in the Pacific Championship final as they handed the visitor's their biggest ever loss.
Australia hardly threatened New Zealand with Mal Meninga's selection of a a number of veterans, including captain James Tedesco, coming under fire after the embarrassing loss. Meninga claimed the team would return stronger next year, but the fallout continues.
'NOT MEANT TO': New Zealand coach's staggering confession after win
New Zealand ran for 700 metres more than the Kangaroos in the demolition, while recording nine line breaks to one. And Penrith great Greg Alexander didn't hold back when he claimed Australia were 'embarrassed' in the final international match of the year for the two teams.
“The Kiwis needed to make a good start, they needed to be strong and aggressive and they needed to keep it going because this is Australian side is a fantastic side,” Alexander said on Fox Sports. “But the Kiwis embarrassed them (Kangaroos) this afternoon. It’s an embarrassing result for Australian rugby league.”
Cronk agreed and claimed Australia had no answers on the day. “You’ve got a contribution from everyone for New Zealand and they just absolutely handcuffed Australia at different stages,” Cronk added. “Tremendous performance.”
New Zealand's response came after Australia comfortably defeated them 36-18 at AAMI Park a week earlier. For the final, Meninga made a number of changes to the team.
And Kangaroos great Cronk was critical of Australia's attitude and called out the complacency from the team that performed well below their best. “Maybe after the performance last week, there’s a little bit of complacency,” Cronk added.
“Under Mal, they’ve played 26 games and that’s only his third loss as Australian coach. He’s had a lot of success that the playing group has probably been used to. It was a dominant NZ performance, but maybe there was a little bit of complacency after last week.”
James Tedesco and veterans under fire after loss
Tedesco has come under fire for his role in the team after a lacklustre season, which also saw him criticised for his Blues performances in State of Origin. The 30-year-old's form has dipped in 2023 with a number of fullbacks clearly ready to take over the No.1 position. Reece Walsh remains the favourite candidate to take over Tedesco after a stunning 2023 season for the Maroons.
I absolutely adore James Tedesco as a player.
He is IMO in the top 5 fullbacks I’ve ever seen & has done it all.
Unfortunately i think his days as a representative fullback are over.
He’s lost that edge that separated him from the rest.
Time to call it a day Teddy.
— The Oracle (@BigOtrivia) November 4, 2023
— InvestorInPlay (@InvestorInPlay) November 5, 2023
When does Reecy Walsh get a run? FB seems to be a spot he can fill
— SRC (@esrcee) November 5, 2023
The Kangaroos' loss was the biggest losing margin in Australia's Test history, surpassing 24-point losses (also against the Kiwis) in 1952 and 2005. Meninga said the result "hurt" and would be well received by the international rugby league world.
"Everyone loves to see us lose and we've done that," Meninga said. "We've made everyone happy. Obviously (the result) will shock the rugby league world in the manner we lost and the scoreline, but we will come back with redemption at the end of next year. We made heaps of errors. That is a reflection of how New Zealand played. They were the better side and deserved their victory."
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