Matt Trodden, NRL.com
With no NRL round this week, it’s now time for Dream Team coaches to take a break from their Classic Dream Team league and put all their attention towards Test Match Dream Team.
In a World Cup year this game is even more important for the players, but for Dream Team coaches it’s another opportunity to get one over your mates on the big stage.
With both the Australian & New Zealand sides named, we’ll take a look at, and analyse the respective lineups from a Dream Team perspective.
Australia v New Zealand
Kick off 7:45pm 19/4/13
WFB - While there are a couple of obvious options here, the dual position abilities makes selection of your fullback very important. Billy Slater has been outstanding for Australia in recent years, and would be heavily chosen here, although Greg Inglis’ dual-position means he could also be selected here. Josh Hoffman has been in very good form for the Kiwis, and is probably the standout for New Zealand, whether at fullback or on the wing. Possibly take a look at the Aussie wingers Darius Boyd or Brett Morris if you want a smokey.
CTR - Inglis is the clear leader for selection in the centres. If you do go with him at fullback however, don’t look past newly appointed Kiwi captain Simon Mannering. The Kiwi captain is likely to play the full 80 minutes in the back row and his work-rate will make him a guarenteed solid scorer. Justin Hodges and Shaun Kenny-Dowall are the other two main options, although both can be inconsistent.
HLF - Selection here could make or break your team, and the safe option is definitely either of the Australian halves Johnathan Thurston or Cooper Cronk. Both will deliver solid scores, and probably great scores if the Aussies win big. However if you’re tipping the Kiwis to do well in Canberra, Shaun Johnson could be a difference maker. He was great on Test debut last year, and has the x-factor that makes him a big scorer. Don’t rule out Greg Bird either, who his also a dual position player that could also fill this role.
2RF - A plethora of options in the back row, but it’s probably best to look at the starting sides when selecting your player here. Paul Gallen (also available as FRF) and Bird will play the most minutes for the Aussies and should score well, Gallen in particular after coach Tim Sheens hinted he would be used in the front row as well. For the Kiwis, Simon Mannering (if you haven’t picked him in the centres) and Alex Glenn should see the most time on the field, and score well. Frank Pritchard is the roughy here.
FRF - There are plenty of options here as well, but only two Australians available while there are four Kiwis. Matt Scott and James Tamou are both good options and will play big minutes, however the form of Jesse Bromwich and Ben Matulino, both in a football & Dream Team sense has been solid. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves could also be worth a look if he can force his way into the starting side.
HOK - It’s a battle in two for the hooking position. Cameron Smith is the safe option, likely to return a score in the 50s at least, although he won’t be goal-kicking with Thurston the man for that job. Issac Luke is the Kiwi option and shouldn’t be discounted, especially if he plays 80 minutes with no designated back-up hooker on the bench.