Michael Maguire on selection headaches, favourites for World Cup and “special” game against Leeds Rhinos

Michael Maguire’s New Zealand side prepared for the World Cup in the best possible way with a 74-0 win over Leeds last night and for Maguire it underlined the strength of his squad.

With players still yet to join the squad, the Kiwis looked exceptional and this prompted Maguire said: “I’ve got a number of players who can play in each position so we have some good decisions to make as we move through the World Cup.

“I’ve got an idea in my mind, but I’ve got to make sure that the guys who come over are ready to play. I’ll be picking a very strong team in that first game.”

He also revealed that there were no injury concerns: “Everyone got through which was good.”

New Zealand are the number one ranked team in the world, but the Kiwis aren’t the favourites, and on this Maguire noted: “I think Australia have the runs in the board in World Cups, we’ve come here to be successful.”

Despite the fact Maguire has a very real focus on winning the World Cup, he took a moment to think about how special last night’s game was as the likes of Thomas Leuluai bid farewell: “It was very special for the Leeds guys who are finishing up and for Leeds to allow us to put this on. There is a strong history between Leeds and the Kiwi team.

“Tommy at the end there, I was very fortunate to coach Tommy in two years and he alongside a lot of players was a huge part in changing the dynamics of that club. He’s done that for a long time.

“To have all the Kiwis there putting on the Haka for him and his three kids was pretty special.”

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