Kieran Foran.
Kieran Foran. Getty Images Sport - Matt King

Kiwis focus on defence

KIWIS playmaker Kieran Foran says their defence must improve when they meet the Kangaroos in the opening Four Nations game in Warrington on Saturday.

The Manly Sea Eagles five-eighths was adamant the Kiwis could turn around their recent 42-6 hammering at the hands of Australia in Newcastle, where they missed countless tackles as the Green and Golds ran riot.

"It's something we are trying to work on before this weekend's match," Foran said . "We know we didn't perform well [in Newcastle] and we know we've got a lot of work to do before Friday night. So we are in good spirits. We feel that we've come here with a reason to win this thing. So we are trying to do that."

Foran's burgeoning halves partnership with Benji Marshall will be pivotal to the cause this weekend if the inexperienced Kiwis forward pack can provide front-foot ball.

The 21-year-old NRL premiership winner with the Sea Eagles has played only a handful of test matches but he looks to have the makings of being a long-term option in the halves.

Another young gun who has designs on a better performance is rookie fullback Kevin Locke. The Warriors player made his test debut with a try against the Kangaroos.

"It's going to be very tough," he said. "You just forget about how we played in Newcastle. It was just a loss that the boys want to forget. It was a poor game from us. A poor performance. But we'll bounce back. New week, new team and hopefully the team will bring a better performance."

With the league World Cup in the trophy cabinet and the All Blacks winning union's global tournament, Locke said the Kiwis would love to bring home the Four Nations crown again.

"It would be huge for New Zealand, in rugby and league. There's a lot of supporters back home that are supporting the league ever since the Warriors made the grand final."

Despite suffering the heavy loss in Australia, Locke said the mood in the camp was upbeat with the team full of rookies due to so many experienced players unavailable through injury.

"We are all good boys that get along with each other. It's just quite a tight group that we've got here and we are all quite young fellas as well. We get along with each other really well so it makes things a lot easier in the group."

With plenty of joking around among the players, Locke said hooker Isaac Luke and bullocking prop Jared Waerea-Hargreaves could always be relied upon for a laugh.

The squad has been split up into groups, named by colour, for challenges to help build camaraderie, and Locke is the captain of the black team.

On Saturday the teams have a cooking challenge and Locke said he wasn't exactly a culinary whiz.

"Speciality would probably be peanut butter and jam on toast," he said. "Nah, I do a little bit of butter chicken, I guess."

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