New Zealand aim for three consecutive wins over Australia in ANZAC test
In the latest showdown on the international rugby league mantle, heavyweight southern hemisphere sides Australia and New Zealand clash in the ANZAC 2015 test, with the former odds-on 4/11 favourites with Coral to claim victory.
However the Kiwis are going for three wins in a row against their great rivals for the first time since 1953, and with a young, vibrant side, they have half a chance.
Billy Slater, meanwhile, remains a 50-50 chance whether he will be fit to play, with the Australia full back, and arguably, on his day, the best player in the world, still recovering from a long term shoulder injury. This would see Greg Inglis, also, like Slater at the top of the game, deputise at number one and is 9/1 to score the first try.
Australia coach Tim Sheens admitted that there will be an assessment on Slater before a final decision is made: “I spoke to him [Slater] and there will be a medical followed by a physical test out on the field,” said Sheens.
“He’s pretty confident he will play, we will do a thorough test on him as we don’t want to risk him.
“[Billy] was very close to playing this week and is the incumbent at full-back by a long way. He proved to me in 2013 in the World Cup that when he says he is right, he is right. If he’s not, he’ll put his hand up and won’t risk the team.”
There is no doubt about the fact that Australia, though, still have a serious amount of talent in their ranks. Michael Jennings, who would come in at centre, if Inglis switches to full back, is 10/1 score first, while both Cooper Cronk and Jonathan Thurston are a great shout at 9/4 to cross anytime.
New Zealand, though will be relying on their sheer athleticism and strength in the pack to secure a win. Manu Vatuvei and Jason Nightingale, 10/1 and 11/1 to score first respectively, will provide the lightning pace, while the irrepressible magician, Shaun Johnson, who could challenge Slater and Inglis for the number crown is a very decent 9/4 anytime price.
Speaking ahead of the game coach Stephen Kearney said: “All of these players have been in good form so far this season and really put their hands up for inclusion in this Anzac Test side.
“It’s a sign that we are developing some great young talent and good depth in certain positions.”
Australia: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Alex Johnston, 3 Greg Inglis, 4 Will Chambers, 5 Josh Dugan, 6 Jonathan Thurston, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Matt Scott, 9 Cameron Smith (c),10 Aaron Woods, 11 Greg Bird, 12 Sam Thaiday, 13 Corey Parker.
Interchange: 14 Luke Lewis, 15 Trent Merrin, 16 Nate Myles, 17 James Tamou.
New Zealand squad: Jesse Bromwich, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Kieran Foran, Tohu Harris, Peta Hiku, Shaun Johnson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Thomas Leuluai, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Sam Moa, Kevin Proctor, Matin Taupau, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Manu Vatuvei, Dallin Watene-Zelezniak