The World Champions have kicked off the international season with a solid 40-24 win over Tonga in Rotorua, New Zealand.
The Kiwi’s were made to work hard for their win, only running away with the game in the last 20 minutes. At one point the scores were level at 24 all in the second half.
Tonga were without a few of their top line players but still fielded a strong team. The run will have done them good looking towards the Pacific Cup, the winner of which will play in the Four Nations competition (Replacing France) to be held next year in the Southern Hemisphere.
New Zealand meanwhile will just be happy to get a run under their belts before they fly out to London later this week.
People will probably look into their performance a little too much, but you need to remember a few things with the Kiwi’s.
They had a lot of their squad making their debuts at International level, a lot of their players did not have a deep run in the NRL finals, they find it hard to gel early as a team and as a rule, the more games they play, the better they get.
As a long time supporter of Tonga, Samoa, Fiji and PNG getting more games, seeing games like this now being played is great news for the International game. Its a shame Australia didn’t have a similar hit out against Samoa before they headed off to London, to be honest, I think Australia could use the run.
These Pacific Islands sides are strong, and they are only getting stronger. Lets hope the Pacific Cup is a real success and that the winner goes on to prove their ability in next years Four Nations competition.