Joy for winning captain as Smith erases the disappointment of ending up on the losing side five years ago.
Rugby League World Cup: No surprise as Australia pip New Zealand
MANCHESTER // a
Regaining the World Cup with a 34-2 hammering of New Zealand had helped erase some of the disappointment of losing it five years ago, Australia captain Cameron Smith conceded tonight.
Smith was one of the older rearguard on show in 2008 when the Kangaroos were trumped by the Kiwis 34-20.
There was to be no such repeat at Old Trafford, however, with Australia scoring five converted tries to nil in a completely dominant display.
“Standing out on the field after the match I think a little bit of the disappointment from 2008 was erased,” a smiling Smith said.
“I don’t want to compare this to [State of] Origin or [NRL] grand finals. This is something you dream of doing as a kid, winning a World Cup for Australia.”
Remarkably, it was the Kangaroos’ fifth consecutive game without conceding a try, the last coming in their opening pool victory over England.
“We were challenged to improve our defence and be the best defensive team in this tournament,” Smith said. “I believe we’ve come away with that mantle.
“When you’re playing a team like New Zealand, and I’ve heard plenty of people say that’s the best New Zealand team that they’ve seen ever, to come up against them when they’re in very great form and not let them cross your tryline is a great effort and something we can look back on and be proud of.”
Smith said it had been a consummate performance from his team, stand-off Johnathan Thurston in supreme form and hitting all seven of his pots at goal.
“Tonight just couldn’t have gone any better for us. We worked hard for the last four weeks in preparation for this game and it’s pleasing when that final siren goes and all that hard work has counted for something.”
Smith added: “I can’t remember the last time I played in such a complete game of football in the Australian side and it’s been like that over the last four weeks.
“We played simple footy, we played tough football and that’s all we did today. There’s probably a couple of tries that were flashy, but the reason we got the result the way we did today was rolling up our sleeves, playing tough and playing for each other.”
Coach Tim Sheens agreed that he had not seen a better Kangaroo display.
“Not in my time,” he said. “The seniority in the team today really stood up. Apparently we were the oldest ever side to play England (in that opening fixture) - the veterans stood up today.
“It was a great, great team effort.”