Tim Sheens ... Kangaroos coach. Photo: Getty Images
A ONE-OFF Test match has provided a different set of challenges to that of a long tour. Australian coach Tim Sheens concedes one of the key issues is ensuring that his players, at the end of a long season, are mentally ready to play New Zealand on Saturday night.
''There is a little bit of [a struggle for motivation] with nothing happening at the end of the season and the end of a long season for them,'' Sheens said yesterday. ''But it is a Test match and they have a high respect for New Zealand, that's for sure, given the closeness of the battles in recent years. They [the Kiwis] have picked a very strong squad. I think in that regard, yes, there'll be plenty of respect but motivation-wise we need to get it done - then they can go on holidays.''
The Kangaroos travelled to Townsville a day earlier than originally planned in order to acclimatise to the expected hot conditions.
''We were out at dinner [on Saturday night] at about game time, it wasn't too bad. It was quite pleasant,'' Sheens said. ''I'd rather be here now than in December. Conditions will play a part but both teams are going to have to suffer that.''