Wayne Bennett pulling the strings of a team with an army of doubters, backs against the wall and everything to prove to a sceptical world. Sound familiar?
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If you are Papua New Guinea, it should sound dangerous.

It’s a situation Brisbane Broncos and Queensland fans have come to know – and love – over the years, more often than not because times of hardship tend to lead to favourable results when Bennett is manning the whiteboard.

Bennett, the rather well credentialed assistant to Kiwi coach Stephen Kearney, loves nothing better than unleashing a satisfying "I told you so" on the doubters. If the Kiwis can rebound from their 30-6 demolition against Australia to somehow carry off the World Cup, it will be one of his most impressive efforts.

New Zealand has enjoyed an idyllic week on the Gold Coast in preparation for Saturday night’s clash with World Cup heartwarmers PNG at Skilled Park, although it hasn’t all been peace and tranquility.

The week has been laced with a series of rockets from Kearney and Bennett, who presented the Kiwi squad with some harsh truths after an effort against the Kangaroos that had commentators declaring the tournament a one-horse race.

"It was definitely warranted," said Kiwi skipper Nathan Cayless of the blast. "We reviewed that game early in the week. We needed to put that behind us. We made it pretty clear we’re not here for a holiday. We’ve got a lot of hard work to do."

While Kearney has been pouring through the video of the Kumuls close loss to England to find flaws in their unorthodox methods, Bennett has been trying to restore some of the belief that was trampled under the feet of Darren Lockyer and his band of merry men.

"Obviously Wayne’s had a lot of success. A big part of that is his players believed in what they were doing and believed in themselves. Everyone has pretty much written us off for the tournament after last weekend but we certainly haven’t thrown in the towel.

"We had to get over the loss to Australia and we’ve done that. We’ve had a really good week up here. We’re up against a really physical team so we’ll need a good performance for ourselves."

The heavy loss to Australia has taken an emotional toll on Cayless, who covered the whole gambit when he suggested his side had let down their country, their fans and their families.

Kearney’s study of Adrian Lam’s Kumuls has resulted in a directive for his forwards to meet the combative Papuans head on. England, he said, were "spooked" by the prospect of a physical war, shuffling sideways too often, even if it did lead to a number of tries down the short side.

The Kiwis look unlikely to try and take the long way around. Instead, Cayless and company will be tasked with spearheading a back-to-basics game plan that focuses on forward domination, improved kicking and tighter handling.

The presence of South Sydney rake Isaac Luke, who was omitted from the opening game, will also give New Zealand a badly needed option around the ruck.

"We’ve identified areas we think are going to be effective for us. I think they (PNG) spooked England into playing a bit sideways, so I’ve made the lads well aware of that. They are a really physical, confrontational side and we have to make sure we’re up for that type of game," Kearney said.

Kearney again stressed his faith in halfback Thomas Leuluai, who many pinpointed as the main scapegoat in the loss to Australia.

But he couldn’t rule out Luke being tested at halfback against the Kumuls if Leuluai continues to misfire.

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