Kiwis take important first step
He was at pains to point out that the Four Nations was far from won but New Zealand coach Stephen Kearney conceded that Saturday night's win over Australia was important for not only the Kiwis' tournament hopes but also future success.
Having suffered eight consecutive defeats at the hands of the Kangaroos dating back to the 2010 Four Nations Final, the Kiwis were faced with a vastly different Kangaroos team than that which humiliated them in last year's World Cup Final and took full advantage.
They may have conceded first points in the opening three minutes of the game but the Kiwis went into half-time level with Australia at 12-all and then scored three unanswered tries in the second half to run out convincing 30-12 winners.
It was a positive flow-on from their wholehearted performance in the mid-year Test in Sydney and Kearney said it was a display from which they can take plenty of confidence.
"This is one step, the first step in a pretty tough couple of weeks but it's a great to start the tournament like that," Kearney said.
"I'm pretty philosophical in that we got a couple of lucky breaks, a couple of key players in their side who didn't come back on after half-time but we still needed to get a job done and I thought the way the boys played the second half and the spirit that they played with the footy and the energy they had in defence was a real positive but we're very mindful that this is the first step.
"For a number of those players who were involved in the Anzac Day Test and you saw a few of them out there tonight, those guys had a taste of what they are capable of in the Anzac week and to come into camp and get a result like we did tonight, I think it will help [their confidence] and I think it will help the guys who didn't play tonight who had a bit of a taste of it during the Anzac week."
New Zealand captain Simon Mannering has been a member of the Kiwis squad in seven of their previous eight defeats at the hands of Australia but was also conscious of not getting carried away by their biggest victory over the Kangaroos since 2005.
"That first 20, the first 40 was a real battle and I guess pleased to control that second half really well and come away with a win against Aussie that have been few and far between of late," Mannering said. "We'll enjoy it tonight but we know there's a big job ahead for our team coming up."
Despite the comprehensive nature of the win, changes will be made to the New Zealand team to play Samoa in Whangarei next Saturday, the first rugby league Test match to ever be played in the city.
The suspension that ruled Issac Luke out of South Sydney's Grand Final victory is now complete and Kearney said there are other members of the squad who will be given an opportunity to press their claims for a permanent spot.
"You've just highlighted a headache I'm probably going to have the next couple of days," Kearney said when asked of the performance of his two hookers, Thomas Leuluai and Lewis Brown.
"I thought both Lewis and Thomas did a tremendous job for us. Lewis has played a fair bit of edge football and can play on an edge as a back-rower but Issac needs to get a run next week so it will be a matter of how we balance the team up and what we think is going to work best for us next week but it's a positive headache to have.
"Potentially, we just need to have a look at the opposition we're playing against this week in Samoa and see what best suits the occasion. We've got some fairly good players who didn't play [on Saturday night] who will feature next week.
"We're trying to win a tournament so we need to make sure we balance that with giving some guys who didn't play tonight and haven't played since the last round of football.
"We're fortunate tonight that we didn't pick up any injuries but in saying that we need to give some guys some football because as you saw tonight with a couple of injuries to the Australians, you just don't know what's around the corner. We have to make sure that we've got a couple of positions covered."
*This article first appeared on nrl.com