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Friday, 8 November, 2002, 17:16 GMT
Barnett predicts tough battle
Richie Barnett thinks Great Britain can bounce back from their defeat in Sydney
Barnett is tipping Britain to bounce back

Former Kiwi captain Richie Barnett says New Zealand will need to be at their very best to inflict another Test series defeat on Great Britain.

"To be honest, I think this is going to be the hardest Test series the Kiwis have had to face in a long, long time," said Barnett.

"Super League has been improving every year and so have the players. Now the Great Britain squad has got a bit more depth."


The Kiwis will find Great Britain will be a lot harder proposition than Australia found mid way through this year
Richie Barnett

Barnett, who was in the New Zealand squad that beat the Lions 2-0 in 1998, also thinks GB head coach David Waite will have a trick or two up his sleeve.

"David knows the ins and outs of the game and is experienced enough to put a team and gameplan together to rock the Kiwis," said the Hull FC player.

"I think he will tell his players to try to get into the Kiwis' faces and cut off their thinking time - get stuck into them and try and force them into errors."

Great Britain go into the series following a demoralising loss to Australia earlier this year.

But Barnett says that result will not count for much.

"The Kiwis will find Great Britain will be a lot harder proposition than Australia found midway through this year," he said.

Richie Barnett touches down for the Kiwis
Barnet has faith in New Zealand's young guns
"It is always hard going from one end of the world to the other and play a Test within a week.

"Now Great Britain are on their home soil and it will change a lot and they will be more fired up against the Kiwis tenfold."

But Barnett is confident the tourists will rise to the challenge, especially with so many players coming from the successful New Zealand Warriors side.

"The squad is pretty exciting," he said.

"It has got a greater mix of younger blokes than experience but that won't matter because they have got that foundation behind them with the Warriors now.

"They have not got blokes coming out of a local New Zealand competition straight into the national squad.


Stacey has to lead by example and his kicking game will be vital
Richie Barnett

"Instead they have got guys who have played with the Warriors which have given them that hardened edge playing in the NRL week in week out."

While Barnett has absolute faith in the squad's young guns, he thinks the New Zealand defence and captain Stacey Jones will hold the key to victory.

"Our defence against the Australians earlier this year was very strong and it almost won us the game," he said.

"Stacey has to lead by example and his kicking game will be vital.

"He is right on the button with it at the moment and that is a big positive for the Kiwis because I don't think we have had that for a long while."

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