No SBW v Kangaroos

2013-04-18 08:23
Sonny Bill Williams (Gallo Images)
Sydney - New Zealand will be without their two superstars Benji Marshall and Sonny Bill Williams as they try to halt a losing five-match run against Australia in their rugby league Test on Friday.

The Kangaroos are fielding a full-strength side in the first league Test played in the national capital Canberra against the World Cup holders.

Playmaker Marshall is out with an injured toe while Williams, back in the 13-a-side code after a spell in rugby union during which he won the 2011 World Cup with the All Blacks, has knee trouble.

The Kiwis have been further weakened by the six-game suspension of their Newcastle Knights back-rower Jeremy Smith.

The Kangaroos have not lost to the Kiwis since the final of the 2010 Four Nations in Brisbane and are heavily favoured to extend their winning sequence.

But Australia centre Greg Inglis said the Kangaroos would not take the Kiwis lightly, with players from both teams looking to impress ahead of the World Cup in England and Wales later this year.

"It's a World Cup year and people are playing for their positions," Inglis said.

"And I'm pretty sure (Australia coach) Tim Sheens and the selectors will be having their eye on the other team running around this weekend."

Coach Stephen Kearney dismissed suggestions his New Zealand side were there for the taking.

"We've got closer with our performances the last three Tests," he said.

"Eighty percent of the group have been here for the last four years and we've got some really good talent coming through.

"We believe we give ourselves a real opportunity on Friday night."

Marshall's absence will give New Zealand Warriors' Shaun Johnson his chance to impress at international level. He will team up with Manly standoff Kieran Foran in the New Zealand halves for the first time.

"Shaun takes up the Marshall-type game and we've played Kieran before and we know what to expect," Sheens said.

"Shaun's reminded us a few times of that ability that he has - as has Benji - to grab you with something. That speed he's got, the show of the ball, the kick and chase."

Australia will have the exciting skills of fullback Billy Slater, Inglis, standoff Johnathan Thurston, scrumhalf Cooper Cronk and hooker-captain Cameron Smith.

Former Australia captain Darren Lockyer said he was always concerned playing against New Zealand because the Kangaroos were always expected to win.

"It always looks that way before the Test, on paper and when you look at the record books, that Australia will cruise to victory," Lockyer said.

"I always got nervous when things seemed to be too good."

Teams for the rugby league Test between Australia and New Zealand in Canberra on Friday:


Billy Slater; Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brett Morris; Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk; Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (captain), James Tamou, Greg Bird, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen

Interchange: Kurt Gidley, Luke Lewis, Nate Myles, Anthony Watmough

New Zealand:

Josh Hoffman; Sam Perrett, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Dean Whare, Jason Nightingale; Kieran Foran, Shaun Johnson; Jesse Bromwich, Issac Luke, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves; Frank Pritchard, Kevin Proctor, Simon Mannering (captain)

Interchange: Elijah Taylor, Sam McKendry, Ben Matulino, Alex Glenn

Read more on:    sonny bill williams  |  rugby league

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