Date:Friday, May 2, 2014
Australia:1.Billy Slater 2.Darius Boyd 3.Greg Inglis 4.Josh Morris 5.Brett Morris 6.Jonathan Thurston 7.Cooper Cronk 8.Matt Scott 9.Cameron Smith (c) 10.James Tamou 11.Greg Bird 12.Matt Gillett 13.Paul Gallen.Interchange:14.Daly Cherry-Evans 15.Boyd Cordner 16.Nate Myles 17.Corey Parker. 18th Man:Brent Tate
New Zealand:1.Peta Hiku 2.Roger Tuivasa-Sheck 3.Dean Whare 4.Gerard Beale 5.Jason Nightingale 6.Isaac John 7.Shaun Johnson 8.Jesse Bromwich 9.Ben Henry 10.Sam Moa 11.Simon Mannering (c) 12.Kevin Proctor 13.Adam Blair.Interchange:14.Siliva Havili 15.Martin Tapau 16.Greg Eastwood 17.Tohu Harris.18th Man:Kenny Bromwich
Australia and New Zealand face off in the mid-year Test match at Allianz Stadium on Friday night, a match traditionally dominated by Australia, who have won the past ten one-off matches between the sides, dating back to 2003.
In fact, the Australia has won 94 of the 126 total matches between both nations.New Zealand enjoyed a brief run of form on the international stage, winning the 2008 World Cup and 2010 Four Nations, but overall, it’s been slim pickings for rugby league fans in the land of the long white cloud.
Making the job that much harder for New Zealand is the fact they are missing key men Isaac Luke, Sonny-Bill Williams, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Kieran Foran. They are fielding a side with 6 players who are making their Test debut, three of those are in key positions; Peta Hiku at fullback, Isaac John at five eighth and Ben Henry at hooker.
On the other hand the Australian team looks very familiar with only Matt Gillett yet to play for his country, and despite a shoulder injury to Jarryd Hayne, they are still able to field a star-studded team, with Josh Morris coming in to the centre position to join twin brother Brett on the right side.
One through seventeen, the Australian team oozes class and their opponents on Friday night usually struggle to repel repeat sets, perhaps explaining their dismal record in these one-off fixtures. New Zealand are capable of playing excellent rugby league, but only in short bursts, and against Australia, this simply isn’t good enough.
As usual, the opening exchanges will be brutal, with some punishing defence from both sides, but when that settles down, Australia will cruise to victory.
It will be entertaining, but I see Australia winning comfortably, by at least 18 points.