The NRL is over but the footy isn’t finished. The Palmerbet Sports Team preview the first Test of the International Rugby League season as the Kiwis plays hosts to the new-look Kangaroos.
Kiwis v Kangaroos @ Mt Smart Stadium
|Esan Marsters||3||Latrell Mitchell|
|Joseph Manu||4||Tom Trbojevic|
|Jordan Rapana||5||Valentine Holmes|
|Shaun Johnson||6||Luke Keary|
|Kodi Nikorima||7||Daly Cherry-Evans|
|Jesse Bromwich||8||David Klemmer|
|Brandon Smith||9||Damien Cook|
|Jared Waerea-Hargreaves||10||Jordan McLean|
|Kevin Proctor||11||Boyd Cordner|
|Isaac Liu||12||Felise Kaufusi|
|James Fisher-Harris||13||Josh McGuire|
|Kenneath Bromwich||14||Ben Hunt|
|Leeson Ah Mau||15||Jake Trbojevic|
|Martin Taupau||16||Tyson Frizell|
|Adam Blair||17||Aaron Woods|
History: Played 152, Kiwis 35, Kangaroos 114
Last Meeting: Anzac Test, 2017: Kangaroos 30 def. Kiwis 12
Final Thoughts: A new-look Kangaroos team plays their first of only two Tests in the International Rugby League season.
They mentioned the toll the World Cup and NRL season has taken on the players, but only eight remain from the team that beat England in the Final.
The old heads – Billy Slater, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater – have all retired from playing in the green and gold jersey while the likes of Will Chambers and Josh Dugan have been punted for younger models with more potential. Remarkably, Aaron Woods is on the bench despite not being regarded as a top prop for his NRL club let alone his state. Nevertheless, there’s still plenty of quality laden all through this squad.
James Tedesco is trying to make the fullback position his own. Likewise, Latrell Mitchell and Damien Cook are aiming to do the same in the centres and at hooker respectively. Daly Cherry-Evans isn’t fresh face, but has been given the keys to the team at halfback with Clive Churchill Medalist, Luke Keary, his halves partner.
“James Tedesco is our fullback,” Meninga makes it clear who will hold the number 1 jersey.
— Hayley Byrnes (@HayleyByrnes) October 1, 2018
Despite the relatively new-look side, the Kangaroos are still heavy $1.36 favourites to beat the Kiwis on their own turf.
The Kiwis are aiming to bounce back from a horror World Cup campaign with this their first game on home soil since losing to Fiji in the quarter-final.
They’ll be doing it without Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, but Shaun Johnson is more than capable of taking the team by the scruff of the neck and dragging them to the upset win. Should the Kiwis not beat the Kangaroos for the first time since 2015, they’ll need to cover the +8 spread. The Kiwis faithful need something to get excited about and given recent results, even a close loss will do the trick for some.
To do that, New Zealand needs to slow Australia down through the middle which is no easy task.
David Klemmer led all forwards in the NRL with 182 running metres this season while Jordan McLean has been putting up decent numbers himself since returning from injury.
Random stat: Jordan McLean has averaged 157.2 running metres per game (5 games) since returning from injury.
Only four forwards average more metres per game in 2018.
— Jason Oliver (@JasonNRL) August 29, 2018
Behind that sort of go-forward, Cook can cause havoc with his 78 running metres out of dummy half per game. That’s not to mention the strike power the Kangaroos have out wide should the Kiwi defence shrink through the middle.
If the Kiwis are to cause the boilover, it’s going to come from Esan Masters and Joseph Manu. The pair have been destructive in attack throughout the NRL season with Masters at $6.50 and Manu at $6 to outscore their opposites (Mitchell and Trbojevic).
— 7 News Brisbane (@7NewsBrisbane) October 10, 2018
There’s a big brother v little brother feel to this one, but it feels like the little fella might be able to catch the big dog off-guard early in front of their home crowd.