Daly Cherry-Evans offloads during a Kangaroos training session this week. Picture: Darren England/AAP
Daly Cherry-Evans offloads during a Kangaroos training session this week. Picture: Darren England/AAP

Meninga's Kangaroos closing in on history

MAL Meninga's Kangaroos have a chance to etch their names in the rugby league annals over the next few years but the coach is keeping his feet firmly on the ground.

Australia are searching for their 14th straight Test win on Saturday when they take on New Zealand in what shapes as the turning of a new leaf at Auckland's Mt Smart Stadium.

Victories over the Kiwis and Tonga over the next fortnight would put the Aussies in rarefied air.

Not since 2011-14, when they strung together 16 wins under Tim Sheens, have the Kangaroos experienced a period of such sustained success.

And should they keep the roll going, they will have in their crosshairs the 17-game winning run the side experienced under the great Frank Stanton from 1979-83.

That period included the Kangaroo "Invincibles" Tour of England and France in 1982, of which a young Meninga was a part.

And while Meninga is a student of the game's history, he won't comment on where the current side stands in it.

"We don't talk about it; we don't think about it at all," Meninga said of the side's winning streak.

"Thirteen could be lucky or unlucky. I don't know."

The Kangaroos' 13-game winning streak began when Meninga took over in 2016.

The team has looked unbeatable under his watch and it shouldn't be forgotten he took over from Sheens at a time when the side was in a lull after back-to-back losses to the Kiwis.

Since 2006, Meninga has forged a coaching resume as good as any in the game's history, having won 33 of 43 games while in charge of Queensland and Australia.

Meninga is facing one of the biggest tests of his decorated representative coaching career over the next few years as he attempts to guide the side after the exit of a golden generation.

Johnathan Thurston, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater are all gone and Meninga must nurture a new breed.

"We don't talk about the dawn of a new era - we don't talk about lost players that might have been in this footy team," Meninga said.

"It's about being a Kangaroo and the expectations of a Kangaroo."