Rugby League World Cup: Simon Mannering calls for calm


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New Zealand captain Simon Mannering says his players can handle the pressure of being World Cup holders when their defence of the title soon begins.

New Zealand pulled off something of an upset when they won the world cup, beating Australia in Brisbane back in 2008 and expectations are high this year as well.

However, Mannering says the current crop of players can take it in their stride and does not believe all eyes will be on them.

“There won’t be a hell of a lot [of pressure],” he said. “So many things have changed that the sting has gone out of it since 2008.

“We have a lot of new guys in our team today. The guys who played in 2008 will always hold it close to their hearts, but things move on. We can’t take anyone lightly and this is a new challenge for us.”

The Kiwis will be without Benji Marshall, who is now pursuing a career in Rugby Union, but have been boosted by the return of Sydney Roosters ace Sonny Bill Williams.

Meanwhile, Mannering says he is also delighted to see so many nations take part in a sport that is clearly growing.

“It’s really great to see. Everybody has come here to try and make something happen,” he added at the tournament’s official launch.

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