Australia coach Tim Sheens has recalled Broncos pair Sam Thaiday and Justin Hodges as well as Anthony Watmough, Luke Lewis and Kurt Gidley after all five missed the last Test against the Kiwis in Townsville due to injury. Thaiday will start in the back row, but coach Sheens pointed out that Thaiday will see some action up front saying, "The configuration of the front row, we've gone an interesting way. We will be using Gallen and Thaiday as front-rowers when we need them."
Canberra prop David Shillington will miss the chance to run out in front of his home crowd after succumbing to a rib cartilage injury while Kurt Gidley has replaced Robbie Farah in the utility role on the bench. Many consider Gidley lucky to be there considering his form for club team Newcastle hasn't been exceptional so far this year. In the end it was Gidley's remarkable utility value that won him the spot. "Kurt's seen as the ultimate interchange player in that he can play fullback to nine," Sheens said.
Outside of tournaments, the Kiwis have found it difficult to overcome the Australians in the past few years. Their chances took a major blow when both Sonny Bill Williams and Benji Marshall were ruled out due to injury. They still managed to name a strong squad with Roosters winger Roger Tuivasa-Sheck the only rookie.
Warriors captain, Simon Mannering will lead out the black and whites for the first time after controversially taking over from Benji Marshall earlier this year. Players who missed the squad for the Test last year but have returned to the fold are Roosters enforcer Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Jason Nightingale, Jeremy Smith and Alex Glenn.
One off tests like this one always mean a little bit more in a World Cup year and no doubt all players will be hoping to put their hand up for selection for the World Cup in October later this year. Not to mention the fact that both teams will be hoping to gain a mental edge over each other in what likely shapes as a World Cup final preview.
Australian squad: 1 Billy Slater, 2 Darius Boyd, 3 Greg Inglis, 4 Justin Hodges, 5 Brett Morris, 6 Johnathan Thurston, 7 Cooper Cronk, 8 Matt Scott, 9 Cameron Smith, 10 James Tamou, 11 Greg Bird, 12 Sam Thaiday, 13 Paul Gallen, 14 Kurt Gidley, 15 Nate Myles, 16 Luke Lewis, 17 Anthony Watmough, 18 Josh Morris.
New Zealand squad: Jesse Bromwich, Kieran Foran, Alex Glenn, Josh Hoffman, Shaun Johnson, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Issac Luke, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino, Sam McKendry, Jason Nightingale, Sam Perrett, Frank Pritchard, Kevin Proctor, Jeremy Smith, Elijah Taylor, Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Dean Whare.
Adam Schoenmaker is a pastor in in his local church in the northern suburbs of Brisbane. Adam loves a good book, a classic album and all Queensland sporting teams.
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