Great Britain Rugby League Lions & New Zealand aim to recover in Auckland
|Great Britain Rugby League Lions v New Zealand|
|Venue: Eden Park, Auckland Date: Saturday, 2 November Kick-off: 04:00 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC Two (03:30-06:00 GMT), full match repeat on BBC Red Button at 09:30, highlights on BBC One 13:15-14:30 GMT; live text coverage on BBC Sport website and app|
They are two wounded animals who share an ambition to come back fighting.
New Zealand's Kiwis and Great Britain's Lions both fell to disappointing defeats on the opening weekend of this autumn's Test series.
Both aim to get it right this time around.
"We're obviously a little bit disappointed with the result and the way we played," said Kiwi coach Michael Maguire. "I've watched their game against Tonga and I guess they're in a similar position."
Great Britain can take heart from their defensive display against Tonga. While scoring opportunities were few and far between, they hung in against a physical battering from Kristian Woolf's side.
If they can fix up the error count that prevented them getting momentum at crucial periods in the game and handed Tonga cheap position and possession at times, then Great Britain should be confident of landing the first blow in this two match mini-series against New Zealand.
"It's one of those games that we weren't there at our best," said forward John Bateman, who scored the tourists' only try in the 14-6 defeat by Tonga.
"We are a lot better team than what we put out at the weekend, but we've had a couple of extra days of training, we've got some combinations together and we're really looking forward to it this week.
"It's always a physical match against the Kiwis and we're really looking forward to it."
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Wayne Bennett's side has lost a bit of strike power with the shoulder injury to centre Oliver Gildart that has ruled him out of the rest of this tour.
However, his absence gives Jake Connor a chance to shine.
And you can tell by the twinkle in his eyes that he is ready to make up for lost time after missing out on the first game.
"Obviously you've got your moves and your defensive systems, but you can't change the player you are," said the mercurial Hull FC utility back.
"When you get the ball, that's what makes you different to other people. You can't stop doing that and hopefully I'll get a bit of the ball and show what I can do."
St Helens prop Luke Thompson remains in the tour party, despite a rib injury sustained in the opening game. He will sit out Saturday's match, which gives a chance for Warrington's rising star Joe Philbin to come into the match-day group of 17.
The 24-year-old brings a mix of pride, emotion and raw energy into the Great Britain squad.
"I was utterly speechless and could hardly breathe when I was told that I was in the 24-man squad, but to now be in the 17 is the proudest moment of my life," said Philbin.
"Some players are blessed with skill and grace but I was never blessed with much of that. Growing up, I always loved watching the big boys tanking it, rather than the silky half-backs."
The introduction of Jonny Lomax is the other change, with the St Helens man taking over from club team-mate Lachlan Coote at full-back. Lomax looked sharp and creative when he came on from the interchange bench last week.
The Kiwis mix old and new. British fans who remember Shaun Johnson breaking a few northern hemisphere hearts down the years will be glad to see he has been dropped, but that is on the back of a very flat performance against Australia last week.
Talk to Kiwi fans and they will tell you that predicting how well Johnson will play for the national team is like flipping a coin. His inconsistency has been replaced in the halves by the gritty presence of Kieran Foran for only his second appearance in four years.
Benji Marshall captains the New Zealand side for a record-extending 22nd time and prop Adam Blair becomes only the ninth player in international rugby league history to win a 50th cap, just one week after Great Britain's James Graham entered the exclusive half-century club.
"It's hard enough getting into the Test team in the first place, and the competition for us just gets better," said Blair. "I'm very privileged to wear the jersey for a 50th time.
"I think there's only ever been one Kiwi to get to the milestone before and that's Ruben Wiki, and everyone in New Zealand knows who Ruben Wiki is. I'll probably sit back and reflect on it more at the end of the tour."
Less familiar on the international stage is Canberra's young back Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad, who scored 11 tries in 25 matches for the Raiders last season.
He is a full-back by nature and that is where he plays his club football, but he will line up in the centres on Saturday, just as he did on his New Zealand debut in Australia last week.
He was not even on the radar of many Raiders fans before 2019 began; now he is a Kiwi international. And he praises Canberra's British contingent - including Great Britain trio Bateman, Josh Hodgson and Elliott Whitehead - for helping him develop.
"I'm glad that I had people that I could turn to," he said. "They've all played a pretty big part for me back in Canberra. They all play a special role in my life.
"Never in my wildest dreams I thought I would ever be in the position I am."
This first Test is hugely important for both New Zealand and Great Britain. Maguire knows the Kiwis need to capture the imagination of a nation left bereft by the All Blacks' demise in the rugby union World Cup.
League struggles for the limelight in many parts of New Zealand. A win against Great Britain will give them much-needed publicity.
Equally, Great Britain need to fulfil the promise and excitement that bringing back the "Rugby League Lions" brand created.
The Test is sandwiched in the middle of a triple-header. Fiji v Samoa kicks off the day at Eden Park, while Australia v Tonga will provide a noisy and emotional final act.
Both New Zealand and Great Britain will need to keep their focus to give themselves a lift going into the rest of the series.