National News

High expectations for new Roos: Meninga

What rebuild?

Mal Meninga has shrugged off the suggestion it's a new era for Australia, insisting there's no reason why their reign of domination over the rugby league world shouldn't continue.

The Kangaroos have lost some of their all-time greats and will be missing 231 games of Test experience through a mixtures of representative retirement, injuries and suspension when they take on New Zealand at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday and Tonga at the same venue a week later.

Despite the departure of four potential future Immortals in Cameron Smith (56 Tests), Cooper Cronk (38), Johnathan Thurston (38) and Billy Slater (30), Meninga is refusing to see this two-Test assignment as a changing of the guard.

Also absent from the side which won last year's World Cup final are Matt Gillett (12 caps), Wade Graham (6) and Michael Morgan (12) while Greg Inglis (39) will miss the tour through suspension.

Australia's 17-man squad has a total of 106 Tests between them, making this the most inexperienced Kangaroos squad since 2003.

There are four debutants in James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Damien Cook.

However, Meninga said the loss of experience and injection of new talent should not a side on a 13-game winning streak was under extra pressure.

"It's the same expectation as anyone putting on the green and gold jersey in the 110-years of our history," he said.

"We want to make sure we play really well and they come off the field happy with their performance."

The squad has been reminded of that rich history and the Test line-up will pay tribute to the seven Kangaroos representatives who were killed during WWI by having VII embroidered on their shorts.

Meanwhile, the Kiwis are without nine players from their shock World Cup quarter-final loss to Fiji, including injured skipper and Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Key players Issac Luke and Tohu Harris are also among the players nursing knocks.

Despite losing first-choice personnel Kiwis coach Michael Maguire, was comfortable the Kiwis were building during his tenure.

"A lot of that has to do with what we do, what we do when we go away from the field," he said.

"It comes down to our preparation, our practice, the connections that we have.

"Our main goal at the moment is who we are. I've started on a journey with these boys and it's a real honour to be sitting in the seat."

STATS THAT MATTER

* The Kiwis are staring down the barrel of four straight losses for the first time since 2011-13.

* Under Mal Meninga, Australia is yet to concede 20 points, letting in an average of just 6.2 per game.

© AAP 2018