Ignored Kiwis pumped for rugby league Test: Beale

RUGBY LEAGUE

Some of their squad have barely been sighted at NRL level this year, but recalled Kiwis star Gerard Beale is adamant New Zealand's fresh-faced underdogs can stretch world champions Australia on Friday night.

St George Illawarra centre Gerard Beale, will be pulling on the black jersey again for the Test between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

St George Illawarra centre Gerard Beale, will be pulling on the black jersey again for the Test between the Kiwis and the Kangaroos. Picture: GETTY IMAGES

As bookmakers reported a swathe of interest on the Kangaroos to thump New Zealand in the mid-season Test, Stephen Kearney's underdogs entered camp in Sydney for the David v Goliath battle.

Because of injuries and eyebrow-raising selections, Kearney has just six survivors from New Zealand's World Cup final drubbing at the hands of Australia last year.

But St George Illawarra centre Beale, who missed the World Cup as he recovered from a knee reconstruction, is convinced it won't all be one-way traffic in favour of Australia.

"I know there's a lot of people out there that are going to be against us, but what matters is what we do and how we take it on board," Beale said.

"There's a lot of youth and enthusiasm in the camp and we're all looking forward to it. It's going to be a big challenge, but everyone here is in form."

Kearney's selection bombshells included parachuting Panthers five-eighth Isaac John straight into the squad from the NSW Cup, and a debut for three-gamer Siliva Havili.

It has inspired the country's largest bookmaker, tab.com.au, to grant the Kiwis a record 20.5 start as Australia are crunched into $1.10 outright favouritism.

New Zealand's winless run in the mid-season Test stretches way back to 1998 when they upset the Kangaroos in Auckland.

It won't matter one bit to Beale, who will play his first Test for New Zealand since October 2012 when he had just left the Broncos for Wollongong.

"First of all I was just happy to be back out there on the field and enjoying my footy, but [the Anzac Test] was always in the back of my mind," Beale said.

"I was just focusing on my game at the Dragons and I'm happy it's paid off and I get to put the black jersey on.

"I guess realising you're not able to play footy really sinks in and you just do everything you can to get back out on the field. I was lucky I had a lot of time [to think about it] and I'm happy that's all over."

Beale joked he had drawn the short straw in rooming with Dragons teammate Jason Nightingale, who is also back in the New Zealand fold.

The consistent Nightingale has usurped Manu Vatuvei on one wing as Roosters young gun Roger Tuivasa-Sheck keeps his spot on the other.

"It's awesome to have [Nightingale] here as well and playing alongside him for our country is going to be great," Beale said.

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