Kiwis upset by 'disrespectful' RLWC plans

New Zealand captain Jesse Bromwich could barely hide his contempt, labelling Rugby League World Cup organisers "disrespectful" for pre-arranging flights for his side to return to Auckland before their semi-final clash with Australia.

In the build-up to the Kangaroos' gritty 16-14 victory, a story emerged claiming World Cup officials had already gone ahead and booked tickets for New Zealand's players to go home on Saturday.

The presumption was Australia would qualify for the final and New Zealand, who had yet to fire a shot at this tournament, would be heading home.

"I don't want to talk about that too much," Bromwich sighed. "It's pretty disrespectful."

Organisers would no doubt have been sweating when New Zealand rushed out to a 14-10 lead at half-time at Elland Road, only to be clawed back in by a Cameron Murray try.

Kiwis centre Peta Hiku had two chances to seal victory in the second half but was denied on both occasions by the video referee.

It left New Zealand to rue a missed opportunity after head coach Michael Maguire had assembled one of the most formidable Kiwis outfits in the modern era, aiming to respond after their shock exit at the quarter-final stage in 2017.

"We came over here with the intention of winning the tournament and to fall short like this is pretty heartbreaking," Bromwich said.

"We've really bridged that gap. We beat them (Australia) in 2018, tonight we were really close and we could have won again.

"We have a really good group of boys and they are all at a really good age where they could be competitive for a very long time.

"2017 was a dark place for New Zealand rugby league but Madge has turned the place around.

"He has brought passionate coaching and we're playing in the style we want to play."