The 2016 Four Nations will kick off with the Australian Kangaroos taking on the Scotland Bravehearts in what will be the first meeting between the two teams. The Kangaroos will field a new look side as they look to build some momentum for the tournament ahead while Scotland will be out to prove they deserve to be competing with the Top 3 ranked nations.

Last Time Out

Australia accounted for New Zealand rather comfortably in a 26-6 victory in a warm-up Test match played in Perth. The highly touted size and strength of New Zealand’s forward pack turned out to be all smoke and no fire as players like Trent Merrin and Shannon Boyd charged through the middle allowing Greg Inglis and Valentine Holmes to run rampant on the left edge. All five of their tries were scored down that attacking side but against Scotland a completely new look left side will take the field allowing the Kangaroos to test out new combinations and attacking plays against a Scotland side that is highly unlikely to trouble them much.

Scotland qualified for their first ever Four Nations tournament by winning the 2014 European Cup that also featured France, Ireland and Wales. They scraped through for a victory with a narrow points differential of 3 being all that kept them above France on the ladder. Last weekend they played a warm-up game against the Barrow Raiders, emerging 48-16 victors.

Players to watch

Australian coach Mal Meninga has opted to take a different approach to his predecessor Tim Sheens in how he utilizes his squad. Namely he has decided to make full use of his entire 24 man squad and as such 5 players will be making their debuts for Australia. Matt Moylan, Justin O’Neill, James Maloney, Jake Trbojevic and Jake Friend will all be keen to impress and do the jersey proud. Moylan and Maloney in particular have a rare chance to demonstrate their skills at International Rep level given the strong hold Darius Boyd and Johnathan Thurston have on their jerseys so they’ll certainly look to leave nothing in the tank. The likes of Trbojevic and Friend will play for their country before their state and the experience they’ll get playing alongside greats like Smith and Cronk will benefit them immensely.

On the Bravehearts side, they have managed to add some NRL first-graders to their ranks with Euan Aitken, Kane Linnett, Lachlan Coote and Luke Douglas suiting up for them. It might be not enough to see them compete on equal terms with Australia but their inclusion adds more potency to their backline especially. With strong runners of the ball like Linnett and Aitken at halfback Danny Brough’s disposal it allows him to make use of a little more strike power and Scotland will certainly need all the help they can get.

Prediction

The world is a strange place and Rugby League is a funny game as they say but I think it’s fair to assume Scotland has next to no chance of winning and any prediction would basically come down to how much Australia will win by.

Australia are fielding an almost unrecognizable backline to what they’ve fielded the last few years with Cooper Cronk the only player to have played even more than a handful of games at Test level. The inexperienced combos and lack of preparation could see a few attacking sets not hit their mark and if the Australians underestimate their opposition and get lazy I believe Scotland can give the Aussies a little scare if they start well. Ultimately though Australia still has too much class in their team to let this one slip. If Scotland can post 2 tries on the board I think they should consider it a successful day out.

Australia by 20+

Squads
Australian Kangaroos
1 Matt Moylan
2 Josh Mansour
3 Justin O’Neill
4 Josh Dugan
5 Blake Ferguson
6 James Maloney
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Aaron Woods
9 Cameron Smith ©
10 David Klemmer
11 Sam Thaiday
12 Tyson Frizell
13 Jake Trbojevic
Interchange
14 Jake Friend
15 Shannon Boyd
16 Trent Merrin
17 Michael Morgan
18 Valentine Holmes
19 Boyd Cordner

Scotland Bravehearts (likely line up)
1 Lachlan Coote
2 Dave Scott
3 Euan Aitken
4 Kane Linnett
5 Lewis Tierney
6 Ryan Brierley
7 Danny Brough ©
8 Luke Douglas
9 Liam Hood
10 Adam Walker
11 Ben Walker
12 Dale Ferguson
13 Brett Phillips
Interchange:
14 Kieran Moran
15 Billy McConnachie
16 Ben Kavanagh
17 Frankie Mariano