League icon inspires Aussies ahead of Trans-Tasman Series
TOUCH FOOTBALL: Australian players will head into a Trans-Tasman Series at Sunshine Coast Stadium inspired by a talk from rugby league icon Mal Meninga.
The three-day competition against New Zealand gets under way on Friday with men's, women's and mixed teams in action.
Australia is the series' defending champion in each division and is primed to topple its arch-rival once again, especially after receiving a morale-boosting speech from the national rugby league coach on Tuesday night.
"Playing against New Zealand always conjures up a lot of emotions," mixed team captain Cameron Nicholls said.
"We had a jersey presentation which we all walked away from feeling enthused and patriotic, particularly after hearing from Mal Meninga.
"He is the coach of one of the best teams in the world....so to hear him speak about values and what it means to play for an Australian team and to have that logo on your chest was quite inspiring."
The Australians have been training hard in the lead-up to the series, which will consist of three matches in each division.
"We've done our work in the last six to nine months with our training camps so we want to get out there and put into practice what we've been working on and find where we're at as we work towards the (2019) World Cup (in Malaysia)," Nicholls said.
Last time Australia confronted New Zealand in the Trans-Tasman Series, the former won every match across the ditch.
But Nichols remains wary.
They are extremely sharp opposition and a formidable opponent," he said.
His mixed team boasts a selection of debutants, aged in their mid-20s.
"There are players in our team this year who have been around the training programs for a number of years but finally get a crack in the final team, so it's good to see that."
Japan is also returning to the Trans-Tasman Series carnival and was scheduled to collide with Australia and Japan in warm-up matches on Wednesday and Thursday.
Wednesday, 10 May
6:00pm - Australia v Japan (Women's Open)
7:00pm - Australia v Japan (Men's Open)
Thursday, 11 May
2:00pm - New Zealand vs Japan (Women's Open)
3:10pm - New Zealand vs Japan (Men's Open)
4:20pm - Australia v Japan (Women's Open)
5:30pm - Australia v Japan (Men's Open)
Game One - Friday, 12 May
3:00pm - Japan vs QLD Invitational Team (TBC) (Women's Open)
4:00pm - Japan vs QLD Invitational Team (TBC) (Men's Open)
5:00pm - Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
6:10pm - Australia vs New Zealand Women's Open
7:20pm - Australia vs New Zealand Men's Open
Game Two - Saturday, 13 May
1:00pm - Japan vs QLD Invitational Team (TBC) (Women's Open)
2:00pm - Japan vs QLD Invitational Team (TBC) (Men's Open)
3:00pm - Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
4:00pm - Australia vs New Zealand Women's Open
5:00pm - Australia vs New Zealand Men's Open
Game Three - Sunday, 14 May
10:00am - Australia vs New Zealand Mixed Open
11:00am - Australia vs New Zealand Women's Open
12:00pm - Australia vs New Zealand Men's Open