By Liam Williams, Date:31/10/13
New Zealand have announced their 19-man squad to take on France on Friday at Parc des Sports, Avignon (8.00pm), with Kevin Locke’s inclusion being one of a number of changes.
The New Zealand Warriors full-back missed out on the Kiwis’ opening fixture against Samoa but having been named in their squad for this weekend, he hopes to make the position his own.
“I enjoy the competition,” said Locke. “There’s competition across the whole team for us. The boys who didn’t play at the weekend like myself can certainly fulfil the roles of the boys who were out there.
“Josh Hoffman started on Monday but if I get the opportunity to start I’ll be grabbing it with both hands and I’ll perform as well as I can.
“To be honest my performance this year was a bit up and down so I’m very grateful to get the opportunity.
“When I got the phone call from Steven Kearney, he said it’s about how badly I want it, how hard I’m prepared to train and how much I’ll fight for it.
“Now that I’m here I’ve trained really hard, got fit and worked on improving all the little areas I needed to do in order to be selected.
“I play my best when I’m fit and focussed so I’m heading into this as best I can.”
New Zealand survived a second-half scare to beat Samoa 42-24, and Locke says there is plenty of room for improvement.
“I thought we were going pretty well in the first half,” he said. “But we slowed down in the second half and allowed Samoa too many tries.
“They got one before half time, and then got a few in the second half and it gave them a lot of confidence and you can’t afford to let that happen against a side like that.
“After the game, the coach wasn’t too happy about our performance, but luckily the boys held on to win and we’ll take that and work upwards from there.”
After playing in front of a sell-out crowd at The Halliwell Jones Stadium, the Kiwis will face a more hostile atmosphere in Avignon, and Locke expects it to give the hosts a boost.
“I experienced it in 2009 when I was with the squad for the Four Nations,” he said. “I didn’t play, but I saw how the crowd got behind home team,
“It made it tough and it’ll be tough again this Friday night, but our focus is on doing the job. We need to worry about what we need to do and ignore everything else.”
Tickets for the RLWC2013 fixture New Zealand vs France at Parc des Sports, Avignon on Friday November 1 (8.00pm) are sold out. Tickets are available for New Zealand’s final group game against Papua New Guinea at Headingley Carnegie Stadium, Leeds and cost from just £15 for adults and £7.50 for concessions. To purchase your ticket, visit www.rlwc2013.com/tickets or call the 24-hour Ticket Hotline on 0844 847 2013.
New Zealand team for France match