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ANZAC Day Test Australian Kangaroos v New Zealand Kiwis Suncorp Stadium Friday


Waikato Junglist
Jun 2, 2008
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A new-look Aussie side prepares to host a very familiar-looking Kiwi outfit for the traditional mid-year Test in a fixture that threatens to deviate from the usual script.
The Kiwis have struggled badly in the one-off mid-season Test over the years, winning just once â€" the second fixture, back in 1998 â€" and losing 14.
A usually-settled Kangaroos side, with the benefit of club and Origin combinations, has frequently proved too strong for Kiwi outfits that often feature players with little experience playing alongside each other.
Not so this time; the Kiwis are boosted by most of their Four Nations-winning squad being available and will feature no debutants to Australia's four.
That successful campaign in November last year included back-to-back wins over the Aussies; another win here would see them notch three in a row against their Trans-Tasman rivals for the first time in over 60 years and also jump to the top of the RLIF world rankings.
While halfback Shaun Johnson has been under fire for a slow start to the year and five-eighth Kieran Foran has missed games recently with a hamstring strain New Zealand have stuck with the players who have been there and done it before.
Dean Whare is out injured, so Peta Hiku will play centre and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck returns at fullback having not played Test football since the 2013 World Cup. Ben Matulino is also playing his first Test since that tournament, Jason Taumalolo is out injured meaning Tohu Harris will start.
Sam Moa is also back, as is Thomas Leuluai â€" who missed the Four Nations final through injury after playing the pool games â€" with Lewis Brown bumped to 18th man.
The Aussies will have no shortage of motivation headed into this one and will be boosted by the return to form and fitness, and return to the side, of Matt Scott and James Tamou.
The Aussies have four Test debutants: wingers Josh Dugan and Alex Johnston, centre Will Chambers and bench forward Trent Merrin.
Billy Slater's late withdrawal due to a shoulder injury means Greg Inglis again plays fullback with Michael Jennings joining the side at centre.
Johnathan Thurston rejoins the team after missing the Four Nations along with Luke Lewis and Nate Myles. Boyd Cordner, Josh Jackson, Daly Cherry-Evans and Ben Hunt are among the Four Nations finalists to miss out.
Watch out Kangaroos: Storm prop Jesse Bromwich is arguably the form front-rower of the NRL at the moment and Warriors bookend Ben Matulino isn't far behind. Each is running over 160 metres per week, making them the third and fourth most productive props in terms of running after Aaron Woods and Andrew Fifita. When you add in Bromwich's mobility and footwork at the line and Matulino's prolific offloading (an NRL-high 21 after eight rounds) it makes them a formidable prospect for the 'Roos forwards to deal with.
Watch out Kiwis: Despite the late withdrawal of Slater the Aussies have an in-form and familiar 'spine' of Inglis, Thurston, Cronk and Smith. Four of the best big-game players you'd ever want to see, but the one in stunning form of late is Cowboys halfback Thurston.
'JT' has nine try assists in eight games â€" second in the competition after impressive Panthers fullback Matt Moylan (10) and all bar one of those in the Cowboys' current five-match winning streak. He's one of those players that can turn a game in an instant, and even more so when he's getting some help from his forwards.
Key Match-Up: Greg Inglis v Roger Tuivasa-Sheck. There are key battles all over the park â€" Cronk v Johnson, Scott and Woods v Matulino and Bromwich, Luke v Smith â€" but each set starts with the fullback and each of these men will be hoping to be their country's custodian for years to come.
While Inglis's 137 metres and 3.5 tackle breaks per game are nothing to sneeze at, they pale when compared to how the Roosters custodian has started the year. He leads all comers for average and total metres with an absurd 235 metres per game. He has one more tackle break than Inglis this year and both have three tries, while Inglis (five) edges Tuivasa-Sheck (three) for try assists.
The History: Played 129; Australia 95, New Zealand 31, drawn 3. It's been a long history of dominance for the Aussies, particularly in the one-off mid-season fixture, but the Kiwis have won the past two â€" both in last year's Four Nations. Interestingly, New Zealand have won four of their past five at Suncorp â€" three wins and a loss against Australia, and a win over England.
The game got postponed due to the bad weather.
Game will be played on Sunday.
Article from the NZ Herald

Kangaroos play maker Johnathan Thurston was "surprised" the Anzac test was called off on Friday night while his captain admitted the Australian team wanted to play.
The much awaited match was called off just under two hours before kick-off, as parts of the Suncorp Stadium turf were completely waterlogged following constant heavy rain in Brisbane on Thursday and Friday. NRL officials said that concern over player welfare was the principal factor, among many other considerations. The match has been rescheduled for 4pm on Sunday (6pm NZT).
Bu Thurston told Australian television that he hadn't necessarily anticipated the decision.
"I was a little bit surprised," said the long time Cowboys player. "I have played in worse in my career."

Meanwhile Cameron Smith said his team were ready to play, despite the extraordinary conditions.
"We were here prepared to play and I caught up with a couple of the Kiwi players and they were ready to play too," said Smith.
"We were ready to play a test [last night] and it would have been nice to play and get a good result but we will wait until Sunday."
Smith, who said it was the first such situation he has experienced in his professional career, conceded that it was the correct decision.
"It wouldn't have been quite unsafe to be playing [last night] on that surface," said Smith. "For an 8 or 9 year-old it would have been a lot of fun jumping round in the puddles but we are here playing some serious football and besides player safety we also want to put on a good spectacle for the public."
Kiwis counterpart Simon Mannering held a similar view.
"We were pretty keen to play but they reckon it was going to be pretty bad out there," said Mannering soon after the postponement was announced. "The decision was made for player safety so you can't really complain about that."

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