Catch 22. for Kiwis

THE last thing the Kiwis want to do is win tonight's Anzac test.

The bragging rights might make it seem worthwhile, but a Kiwis' win could be counter-productive long-term.

For over a decade the Anzac test has been the outcast of international league. The match has never been truly competitive. It has existed only as a means to generate revenue.

That's why it has just about always been played in Australia, most often in Brisbane. Bigger crowds, stronger currency. End of story.

In Australia, State of Origin is the pinnacle. The Anzac test is an irrelevance.

This year, though, there is a groundswell in favour of granting the Anzac test the status it deserves.

Wayne Bennett has pointed out the ridiculousness of NRL matches continuing to be held over the test weekend. Darren Lockyer wants the match to be a standalone event played on a Sunday.

Having won the World Cup and the Four Nations, the Kiwis are now a credible foe. But those successes have come after lengthy campaigns with significant build-ups.

It has long been obvious that to compete with the individual brilliance of the Australians the Kiwis need time to forge themselves into a true team. At the very least that means going into camp 10 days out from the match - just like Origin.

Now, just when the promised land of regular, truly competitive mid-season tests may be coming into view, the Kiwis are in danger of scuttling their own ship.

It's a classic Catch 22. To prove they are worthy of the same status as Queensland and New South Wales, the Kiwis have to succeed. But if they win tonight they will undermine the argument that a playing field that has for so long been tilted against them must be levelled.

Then again, maybe the Kangaroos would start to demand the chance to prepare properly for the match. Now wouldn't that be something.



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