Mon, Oct 30, 2006 - Page 18 News List

Kiwi skipper says he bears no grudge against Morley

AFP , CHRISTCHURCH, NEW ZEALAND

New Zealand rugby league skipper Ruben Wiki said he was unsurprised Great Britain enforcer Adrian Morley targeted him in Saturday's Test but he won't take the matter further.

"It's on the field and stays on the field," Wiki said yesterday after a judicial panel cleared Morley over two incidents of alleged foul play in a fiery Test that New Zealand won 18-14.

Morley had been placed on report for a jolting hit on Wiki, and the New Zealand management also complained after he later punched Brent Webb in the head in the match.

Wiki was dazed when Morley jumped out of the defensive line and clobbered him at shoulder height. The jolting impact left Wiki on the deck and teammates rushing in to size up the English firebrand.

Given Morley's previous disciplinary record -- the Test was his return from a seven-game ban for kneeing an opponent -- the British camp could have been forgiven for feeling nervous until he was cleared by the judiciary.

Wiki said Morley got "a bit carried away" when striking Webb but he had no problem with copping a forearm.

"My footwork bamboozled him, it must have put him off balance," Wiki laughed.

"You expect that from Moz, he comes out passionate. It's on the field and stays on the field. It doesn't worry me, it was just two frontrowers going at it," he said.

Ironically, it was New Zealand teammate Simon Mannering who caused Wiki more obvious damage when his right knee opened up a cut above the 53-Test veteran's right eye during a second half collision.

The result kept alive New Zealand's faint hope of defending their Tri-Nations crown after losing their first two matches to Australia.

But they have mental and tactical issues to address after leaking two converted tries in the dying stages of their last Test against Australia and again in their first Test against Great Britain.

"It's definitely something we've got to look at and try to rectify," man of the match Webb said. "We're switching off in the last few minutes, and overall we were a bit flat."

But Kiwi coach Brian McClennan took a philosophical view.

"We're still rapt we've got a win. An ugly win is better than a pretty loss," he said.

It also spares the blushes, for now, of the New Zealand Rugby League, who have already gone and booked team accommodation in Sydney for next month's final.

Great Britain coach Brian Noble cited an unsatisfactory 64 percent completion rate for his side losing their first match in the series.

"We weren't patient enough when executing our last plays on attack. We established some good field position but our execution showed we haven't had a hit out together," he said.

"We're disappointed because we felt we could have come away with a win, we haven't quite played as we practised," Noble said.

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