The one change Kangaroos must make to avoid 40-year first

Scott Bailey
The one change Kangaroos must make to avoid 40-year first

Defeat against Tonga will deliver Australia their first back-to-back international rugby league defeats in 40 years.

And the Kangaroos know a repeat performance of the one against New Zealand last week will also leave them susceptible to one of the biggest upsets in league history.

The historic clash with Tonga in Auckland is one of the most fiercely anticipated Tests in years, following Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo's efforts to revolutionise the Mate Ma'a in the past 12 months.

The rejuvenated Tongans showed their potential by reaching the finals of last year's World Cup, but it's not all going according to plan for the Kangaroos.

The world champions suffered a humbling 26-24 loss to New Zealand last weekend where they had just 43 per cent of the ball.

Australia completed 73 per cent of their sets against the Kiwis in their first match since the retirements of anchors Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk.

"The biggest thing for us is just holding the ball," prop Aaron Woods said.

"We put ourselves under the pump too much and had to make too many tackles. Walking off at half-time the possession was 69 per cent to 31.

Aaron Woods says the Kangaroos have to hold on to the ball to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time in 40 years. Pic: Getty

"You won't win NRL games like that let alone Test matches.

"The biggest thing for us is holding the ball and going set for set with Tonga. They're such a big side and if you give them too much ball they'll do what New Zealand did."

The Kangaroos returned to training on Tuesday after two days off following Saturday's loss.

Five-eighth Luke Keary is understood to be recovering well from a concussion and will continue to be monitored throughout the week.

"It's going to be another real tough one," Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes said on Tuesday.

"Definitely have to step up our performance from last Saturday, if we put something like that up they will probably dish us up too.

"We need to train well today and tomorrow and figure out what we did wrong in the last game and work on that.