Boss Mac: We can handle the heat

Steve McNamara

Steve McNamara

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COACH STEVE McNamara reckons England can handle the pressure of facing the world’s top-ranked team, in a full stadium, with a Test series at stake.

With the score standing at one win each, tomorrow’s victors at a sold-out DW Stadium, Wigan, will win the Baskerville shield.

England won the opening Test in Hull 26-12, but were beaten 9-2 at the Olympic Stadium.

“The players are well aware of the importance of the game and the improvements we have to make from our previous matches to give ourselves every chance of beating New Zealand,” said McNamara, who is seeking his first tournament win against southern hemisphere opposition.

“We will have to be at our best to win, but we’ll relish the pressure of playing against a quality team in front of a full house at Wigan.”

New Zealand boss Stephen Kearney is likely to stick with last week’s winning team, though he has named a 19-man squad, with Isaac Liu and Gerard Beale on stand-by.

Kodi Nikorima, a late change at scrum-half for the game in London, will continue in the side with Tuimoala Lolohea – who he replaced – dropping out of the initial squad. Kearney said: “These lads got the job done last week and it was a good performance. I don’t feel there was a need to change the team.”