Broken rib no barrier to NZ hero Charnze in Cup upset

Joel Gould |

Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad played injured for NZ, in their shock thrashing of Australia.
Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad played injured for NZ, in their shock thrashing of Australia.

New Zealand coach Michael Maguire has revealed how man of the match Charnze Nicoll-Klokstad battled through a brioken rib to inspire a record-breaking 30-0 Pacific Cup final win over Australia.

The Kiwis fullback ran for 277m, had two line break assists and a try assist to outplay opposite number James Tedesco in Hamilton as the hosts inflicted the biggest defeat on the Kangaroos in their Test history.

The 28-year-old was playing injured last week in the 36-18 loss to Australia after getting hurt in his side’s 50-0 win over Samoa the previous week.

“I didn’t say it earlier but after the Samoan game he actually had a broken rib,” Maguire said.

“Charnze probably wasn’t meant to play but it just shows what players will do when they are playing for their country and playing for their brothers.

“It was a special performance. He wasn’t sure after the Samoa game whether he could keep going but he didn’t want to leave (camp).

“When you have got things like that happening within your group you can come up with special performances.” 

Maguire proved to be spot on with his decision to stick with Nicoll-Klokstad at fullback and Joseph Manu at centre for the final, rather than switch their positional roles as some pundits had suggested.

Nicoll-Klokstad was quiet last week but Maguire knew the adversity he was playing under and backed him.

Maguire said prop James Fisher-Harris had been “exceptional” as a captain. 

The Penrith powerhouse doesn’t say a lot, but leads with his actions. 

From the opening whistle, he set the standard and the rest of the middle forwards followed with Moses Leota, Joseph Tapine, Nelson Asofa-Solomona, Leo Thompson  and Griffin Neame outshining their more fancied opponents. 

Maguire said there was “unfinished business” with Australia after a narrow 16-14 loss in last year’s World Cup semi-final.

The margin of the Pacific Cup final win did not shock the coach.

“With the way the group has come together and the feeling that they have, as brothers, I always felt they had a special performance like that in them,” Maguire said.

“I was really pleased with how we were able to defend. It means a lot to us. A lot of us did tour last year together and there was a feeling (after the World Cup semi-final loss) that I never wanted again and the players felt the same.

“The players have been through that adversity together and come out the other side, which I knew they would.”