Smith, Thurston hail Kangaroos culture

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Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston highlighted the importance of international rugby league to Australia's squad after the Kangaroos trounced New Zealand 34-8 to regain the Four Nations title at Anfield.

A fortnight on from beating the Kiwis 14-8 in the group stage of the tournament in England, Mal Meninga's side cruised to a much more emphatic victory on the back of 24 unanswered first-half points.

Australia will reclaim the number-one ranking from New Zealand as a result of their success and a delighted Smith hailed the commitment of his players.

The Kangaroos skipper told the BBC: "The older boys, we've always had a lot of pride in the jersey and it's great to see all the young boys really cherishing the international game and seeing the Kangaroos jersey as the pinnacle of rugby league.

"I think it's just been a nice change with Mal bringing some different things in around the team and some new players on board. We're undefeated throughout this whole season, which is great."

Thurston, who kicked 10 points in his final game on English soil, echoed his captain's comments.

"It's quite special to be able to take the Four Nations trophy back home and to play on a ground that has so much history. It's been a good campaign by the boys. We said from the start we wanted to create really good memories and that's what we've done," added the half-back.

"Mal's come in and produced a really good squad - there's a lot of experience but also he's blooded a few players as well. It's good to see those younger boys coming through and really cherishing the jersey and really standing up for the international game."

Australia's focus will now shift to retaining the World Cup on home soil next year.

Smith said: "Hopefully all the guys who were involved in this tour are all fit and playing well next year and are all available for the World Cup.

"We've put this team in a pretty good position moving into the World Cup and our first goal was to come here and make the final and win it. We've done that so we just need to keep building."