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Kiwis embrace underdogs tag

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

SYDNEY - Kiwi excitement machine Shaun Johnson says New Zealand's so-called "team of nobodies" are plotting to spring one of the great trans-Tasman boilovers in Friday night's rugby league Test against Australia.

Johnson, who carved up England to score the try of the World Cup last November, says belief can overcome the Kiwis' inexperience and criticism of Stephen Kearney's rank underdogs has galvanised them in their improbable bid to topple the all-conquering Kangaroos.

Australia, with an average age of 28, boasts a total of 296 Tests in experience — more than double the 137 caps for New Zealand's raw squad (average age 24) which contains six uncapped players.

"Look, we don't care who we're playing. We're just so pumped to be in the position we're in. Especially being an Anzac Test match, that makes it even more special," Johnson told AAP.

Criticism of the Kiwis squad has focused on the non-selection of the likes of Sonny Bill Williams and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves while play-making star Kieran Foran heads a long injured list.

"It doesn't matter if we haven't got the biggest names," said Johnson.

"Being in camp with all the brothers is always a privilege and a massive honour to have a chance to represent your country.

"So we're not really listening to what outside people are saying. We believe in the talent that we've got in our camp."

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