Maguire urges Kiwis pack to fill JWH void

Michael Maguire has challenged his Kiwis forwards to step up and fill the void left by Jared Waerea-Hargreaves as they aim to bring down Australia in their World Cup semi-final.

Waerea-Hargreaves is clear to play for the Kiwis after serving a suspension but a hamstring injury has curtailed the enforcer's return.

Maguire described the Sydney Roosters prop as being like a "caged animal" and was hopeful he'd return for the final, should New Zealand get there.

But Maguire called on his other middle forwards to rise to the occasion.

"I've got a few candidates that will take that mantle," Maguire said ahead of Friday's (Saturday AEDT) semi-final at Elland Road.

"They're all about playing for each other and playing the game how we want so I've got a few there.

"James Fisher-Harris and Moses Leota who have just come out of a grand final, I think those two are probably two of the best players on the field so we've got a pretty handy front row with Joe Tapine here as well."

Maguire's side have just one win in seven games against Australia since 2016 but the coach said that history counted for little.

"Australia have obviously got the runs on the board in the World Cup if that means anything," Maguire said.

"This is a whole new 80 minutes and there's a lot that's gone into where we are right now.

"We've got a really strong group and a lot of the players now play in big games.

"I don't know what previous teams have been like but this group I've been talking to for four or five years now.

"We set up way back to get to this point and now we've obviously got Australia front of us."