Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Who Is Really No. 1?

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Who Is Really No. 1?

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Jancetic

AUSTRALIAN skipper Darren Lockyer says New Zealand have every right to lay claim to Test football's No.1 ranking should they upset the Kangaroos again tonight.

Despite heading into the Suncorp Stadium clash as World Cup champions following their stunning triumph in last year's final, the Kiwis still trailed the Australians in the official rankings which were released at the completion of the 2008 tournament.

But according to Lockyer, top dog status will go on the line at Suncorp Stadium when the Kangaroos attempt to avoid back-to-back losses to the Kiwis for the first time in almost 40 years.

"They'll be out to prove that last year wasn't a fluke and if they've beaten us the last two times you'd have to say `yeah, we can't claim to be No.1," Lockyer said.

"If we were to lose tomorrow night I can't see how we'd be No.1."

Last year's World Cup win came on top of New Zealand's equally amazing 24-0 thumping of Australia in the 2005 Tri-Nations final.

They were unlucky not to go back-to-back in the Tri-Nations with Australia only winning the 2006 tournament in golden point.

The Kiwis seemed unperturbed by the prospect of taking over as top dog, Stephen Kearney more concerned with improving his side's horrible record in mid-season Tests.

Not only have New Zealand not won a mid-year Test in 11 years, but the Kiwis have copped a hammering in recent years with Australia twice posting totals in excess of 50 points.

"We're not too fussed about rankings, all we're concerned about is performing," Kearney said. "If we're fortunate enough to get the ranking, so be it, but that's not our focus."

Both sides had their final hit outs at Suncorp Stadium yesterday, with the training runs doubling as fitness tests for Australian fullback Billy Slater and Kiwi lock Jeremy Smith. …

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