10 Nov 2022
Maguire countering Grant threat with club secrets
New Zealand coach Michael Maguire revealed his NRL stars are passing on information on their Australian teammates ahead of Friday's semi-final
By Josh Graham
New Zealand coach Michael Maguire revealed his side have been spilling secrets on their NRL colleagues to try and get the edge over Australia in Friday’s semi-final showdown.
Maguire watched his team scrape past Fiji 24-18 in Hull on Saturday night to book their last four spot and a repeat of the 2013 World Cup final, which the Kangaroos won at Old Trafford - the same venue both sides are bidding to reach for this year’s showpiece.
The Kiwis can call upon several NRL superstars, with four players that featured in the Grand Final for Penrith and Paramatta included in Maguire’s matchday squad.
Maguire insisted there will be no surprises in store from the opposition and pointed to his five Melbourne Storm players from this year - Brandon Smith, Kenny and Jesse Bromwich, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and Jahrome Hughes - as sources of intel on Australia hooker Harry Grant, who looks set to share dummy-half duties with the recalled Ben Hunt at Elland Road.
Maguire said: “I've got a fair few players that have played with Harry, so they've got a few secrets they're able to tell me.
“They're aware of their players. I mean, these boys have been playing against each other for quite some time.
"So the style of how they play, they're very conscious of, but going back to how we want to go about things is definitely that we need to make sure we're at our best.”
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Maguire is set to welcome back Panthers prop Moses Leota for just his second appearance of the tournament after recovering from a pectoral problem suffered in the group-stage win over Jamaica.
However, although bulldozing middle Jared Waerea-Hargreves - the third survivor from the 34-2 final defeat nine years ago alongside captain Jesse Bromwich and Kieran Foran - is no longer suspended, a hamstring problem means the 33-year-old Sydney Roosters sensation will not be available until the final if New Zealand get there.
Maguire added: “It’s definitely been a tough decision for Jared but he wouldn’t have been right for this week. He trained really hard today and had another great session but we are planning for what’s ahead.
“What Moses did in that Grand Final, he’s one hell of a player. He’s a joy to coach, he works hard and he adds a hell of a lot. I’ve really enjoyed having him in the group.”
Maguire believes his side have learned the lessons from their comeback victory over the Bati which will stand them in good stead for what many are predicting could be an all-time classic in Leeds.
He explained: “We've learned a lot out of that actually. It was a good game for us because it took us to a place we've never been to before and it was nice to see that the players were able to come back and show the resilience that we have spoken about.
“We were down 12 nil and the players had to regroup and recalibrate about what we were about and I thought their composure throughout the game and the way they've grown, especially over the last period that we've been together, showed what needed to be done.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets