“It’s done us a world of good really,” Meninga said.
The Kiwis have got a great side, they are pretty impressive. They all play in the NRL and know what it takes to win footy games.
“It’s a positive experience for our players. Most of the players in our footy team are pretty young. It has given us a reality check around Test match footy, how strong Test match footy is.
“The Kiwis have got a great side, they are pretty impressive. They all play in the NRL, they are used to the week in, week out stuff and know what it takes to win footy games.
“They have got a great side and a passionate coach; he’s got the Kiwis buzzing along really well. It’s a high bar, absolutely. The [Australian] players were disappointed, they took the loss hard.
“It means a lot to them. They are passionate about the green and gold jersey. We will get better as a result of it.”
Meninga said the Kangaroos were in a transitional period after losing long-time team members including Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Greg Inglis.
“We lost about 140-odd Test matches of experience in the last two years, something like that,” Meninga said.
“We’re going through some transition and it will make for a pretty interesting World Cup in 2021.
“[New Zealand] has played something like nine Tests. They’ve beaten a tier-one in England, so based on the weight of games they deserve to be in the No.1 spot at the moment.
“We’ve got opportunities to play four or five Tests next year, we’ll see how we go.”
The Australians are scheduled to embark on a Kangaroo tour of Europe next season that includes three Tests against England and a clash with New Zealand. There will be a number of lead-up games as well, potentially including a clash with France.
Meninga said he was looking forward to Australia playing more matches in the future but was mindful of the demands on his players.
“We’ve got Origin, so we have to be careful about the workload,” he said.
“A lot of the players in the international side have played through the finals as well. That’s not to say the other nations don’t, but we have got three games of Origin too, so that adds to the workload.
“We don’t get an opportunity to play together often. We’d like to play more games but, in fairness to the players, we’re playing the right amount of games at the moment.
“We’ve got the Kangaroo tour . . . that’s good for us going into a World Cup. That will give us a bit more continuity and get some combinations going.”
Maguire said the top ranking was recognition of his side’s progress but is already focusing on loftier.
“This is a great honour and it is good to be recognised, but we know that the Kangaroos hold the silverware and that is our ultimate ambition,” Maguire said in a statement.
LATEST WORLD RANKINGS
1 New Zealand (+3 spots)
2 Australia -1
3 England – 1
4 Tonga =
5 Fiji =
6 PNG +4
7 Samoa =
8 France -2
9 Scotland -1
10 Lebanon -1
1 Australia =
2 New Zealand =
3 England =
4 Papua New Guinea +2
5 Canada -1
6 France -1
7 Cook Islands -2
8 Italy =
9 Serbia (new entry)
10 Fiji (new)
Adrian Proszenko is the Chief Rugby League Reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald.