Posted: 19 November, 2016
by AAP + TripleMNRL
It's The Beginning Of The End For Johnathan Thurston
Image: Getty Images
The Kangaroos have also not lost at a neutral venue since the shock 24-0 defeat at Elland Road in 2005, with their worst result against the Kiwis since then coming in a 20-all draw in London in 2009.
Since that stalemate at the Stoop ground in Twickenham, Australia have won 16 straight matches in Europe with Johnathan Thurston playing a key role in nearly all of them.
Thurston will play his last match on English soil on Sunday and will call time on his representative career after the Rugby League World Cup next year.
"I've real fond memories of playing on English soil, in fact some of my fondest in the green and gold have been here," Thurston said.
"Winning the Four Nations tournament in '09 and '11 and obviously the (2013) World Cup at Old Trafford.
"I've indicated to Mal that it's my goal to make that World Cup squad next year so, providing my form is warranted for selection, I'll be putting my hand up, but that will probably be the end of my representative career."
"It's going to be sad," he said. "I've loved playing for my country and I've loved playing for my state but it has to come to an end some time.
New Zealand will be without experienced five-eighth Thomas Leuluai who is out due to a broken jaw and Thurston said the loss of the former Warriors playmaker will place more expectation on halfback Shaun Johnson.
"Even though they might have just limped into the final, the Kiwis know how to win tournaments and they know how to play in big games," Thurston said.
"But there's going to be a lot of pressure on Johnson's shoulders to create opportunities for them but their strength is definitely their forward pack.
"Whenever they've won tournaments, it's been through their forward pack. So our boys need to match them in the middle third if we are to have any hope of winning this game."