Kangaroos admit to concerns over Anfield pitch
RUGBY LEAGUE: Australian fullback Darius Boyd says Mel Meninga and his coaching team have reassured players every precaution has been taken to ensure their safety in Monday morning's Four Nations final.
Opposition New Zealand may not be quite as forthcoming, but Boyd said the reduced pitch and smaller in-goal areas at Anfield at least won't present as many dangers as players initially believed.
The iconic home stadium of football powerhouse Liverpool will host a major rugby league international for the first time when the Kangaroos take on the Kiwis in the tournament decider.
With the stands situated so close to the playing surface, the pitch has been reduced to just 91 metres - nine shorter than what the international rulebook stipulates is required.
Extra padding has also been placed behind the in-goals while the digital advertising hoardings have been removed.
Kangaroos pair Luke Lewis and Brett Morris were injured in separate incidents during the 2013 World Cup in England after crashing into fencing behind the in-goal areas at St Helens and Old Trafford, respectively.
Boyd admitted players had raised concerns this week with Meninga.
"Mal's been pretty good with preparing us,” Boyd said. "He measured out the pitch at Coventry and it was a bit shorter and you could tell in London that the distance between the 30 and the 40-metre line was about seven metres.
"At Old Trafford three years ago it was bit dangerous when you were chasing a kick.
"It's a bit worrying but at the end of the day it's pretty special to play at a ground like Anfield where there hasn't been much rugby league played before.”
Meninga will name his team today, with Shannon Boyd a near certainty to beat fellow rookie Jake Trbojevic for the bench spot vacated by the injured Sam Thaiday.
Thaiday has been joined by his family in Liverpool after undergoing surgery on his cheek in London.
JOURNEY TO THE FINAL
v Scotland 54-12
v New Zealand 14-8
v England 36-18
v England 17-16
v Australia 8-14
v Scotland 18-18
PREVIOUS FINAL WINNERS
2009: Australia beat New Zealand 46-16
2010: New Zealand beat Australia 16-12
2011: Australia beat England 30-8
2014: New Zealand beat Australia 22-18