The Kangaroos are hot favourites against the Kiwis on Friday night. Image courtesy of adelaidenow.com.au/Mark Evans/Daily Telegraph
With a squad made up primarily from the successful World Cup unit, Australia is a firm favourite to overcome a revamped New Zealand in Friday’s trans-Tasman Test at ANZ Stadium.
Only five players - captain Simon Mannering, Shaun Johnson, Jesse Bromwich, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Dean Whare – survive from the team which was hammered 34-2 by the Kangaroos in last year’s World Cup final. There are six newcomers – Peta Hiku, Isaac John, Martin Taupau, Kenny Bromwich, Ben Henry and hooker Siliva Havili, who has played just a handful of NRL matches. Veterans Adam Blair and Jason Nightingale have earned recalls; with Gerard Beale also back in the squad. Enforcer, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves is a shock omission. There’s no Sonny Bill Williams either, but the man SBW replaced at the World Cup last year, Tohu Harris, is back in the 18-man squad. While there is a distinct lack of experience at dummy half and a likely new spine (Havili, Johnson, John and Hiku), the underdogs are threatening to play unorthodox footy, with a lot of their attacking raids set to come from different areas on the park.
Understandably, the Australian 17 is based on the outfit successful in Manchester last November. From that world champion side, 14 players have been bee retained. A shoulder problem has forced Jarryd Hayne out, with Josh Morris given the nod ahead of Justin Hodges (who is coming back from a serious Achilles injury). Andrew Fifita and Josh Papalii have been omitted, with their bench spots going to Nate Myles and Boyd Cordner. Matt Gillett is Australia’s 18th man.
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