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Kiwis chase improvement against France

The Kiwis are resting battered bodies in the south of France and promising better in their second match at the Rugby League World Cup.
Kiwis chase improvement against France
by AAP

AVIGNON, France, OCT 29 AAP - The Kiwis are resting battered bodies in the south of France and promising better in their second match at the Rugby League World Cup.

The New Zealand team flew to Nice on Monday before a long bus ride west to Avignon, the venue for their second game against France on Friday.

As well as a local winery tour the squad were put through a yoga session on Tuesday and it was just what was needed in the wake of their 42-24 opening win over Samoa in Warrington according to veteran forward Frank Pritchard.

It was a performance that hurt them more than just physically, reflecting on their defensive meltdown midway through the second half which helped Samoa notch up four unanswered tries.

"We fell asleep and they capitalised on it. They put us under the pump and that's a tough thing for us as a team," Pritchard said.

"I know that a lot of the players personally are not happy with their performance."

Bathed in sunshine, the historical city of Avignon seems a world away from England's gloomy north.

Pritchard says the Kiwis' mindset won't drift from the task at hand and that they won't take France lightly despite the hosts' unimpressive opening display in scraping past Papua New Guinea 9-8.

"There are no easy teams anymore, everyone's hard, if you go in there thinking anything else than we're going to end up having that second half performance like Samoa."

Experienced half Thomas Leuluai has returned to fitness and looks set to start, while wing Jason Nightingale seems primed to return to the wing in place of Manu Vatuvei, who is nursing a sore leg.


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