Australian coach Tim Sheens says it’s not his job to protect the credibility of international rugby league as he plots a world record-equalling 16th straight Test victory on Friday night.
The world champion Kangaroos are prohibitive favourites to beat a depleted New Zealand outfit at Allianz Stadium to match the unprecedented run of the Australia’s so-called “Invincibles” from 1979 to 1983.
Such has been the Kangaroos’ dominance and, with the Kiwis missing a galaxy of stars including Sonny Bill Williams, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Isaac Luke and Shaun Kenny-Dowall, there are fears the stadium will be half empty for the showpiece Test.
“That’s for other people to worry about,” Sheens said on Wednesday.
“My main concern as coach of the Kangaroos is to prepare them to win a game.
“I know everyone likes the Kiwis to beat us occasionally for the credibility of the game, but I don’t like that and I don’t think the players do either.
“But they’ve beaten us enough times to remind us that they can on those occasions.
“So we’ve got about 15 wins straight there at the moment and we set a high bar last year and we’re keen to maintain that.”
Sheens is hoping Sydney sports fans come out to honour Australia’s modern-day superstars like Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Johnathan Thurston and Cameron Smith in the same way they did for the greats of yesteryear.
“I think if Wally Lewis and Peter Sterling, Brett Kenny, these guys, Mal Meninga, were playing here on Friday night, you’d get a fair crowd,” he said.
“So I’m certainly hoping we get a fair crowd for the guys who are hopefully going to match that record.
“But the record’s not the important thing – it’s just a side thing to it.
“A Test match is a Test match and you come out to win every one of them.”