Several Kangaroos rookies are set to make their international debuts this weekend in the dress rehearsal for the Four Nations Final against New Zealand after coach Tim Sheens confirmed last night he would axe some senior players.
Soon after stating “there will be some changes” – more as a result of disappointing form than injury – Sheens put Australia’s seven rookies through a fitness session while the team showered following their 34-14 win over England at Melbourne’s AAMI Park yesterday.
The rookies - Dally M winner Todd Carney (Roosters), Greg Bird (Titans), Dean Young (Dragons), Matt Scott (Cowboys), Tom Learoyd-Lahrs (Raiders), Nate Myles (Roosters) and Chris Lawrence (Wests Tigers) – will have until Thursday to push their claim for selection for the final round match against the Kiwis in Auckland on Saturday.
Man-of–the-Match Luke Lewis is in doubt with injury, but Sheens expects him to be fit for the all important Final the following weekend (Sat, Nov 13) at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, where New Zealand upset Australia in the 2008 World Cup Final.
“We want to win this game (this Saturday) and I will pick a team to win the game … and there will be some changes, in respect there are a couple of injuries, but also I don’t think some of the guys played well enough,” Sheens said.
“I said to them before the game - the 17 guys who started all had experience - either State of Origin or playing for their country. A lot of the guys not playing were the rookies and that's why the senior guys got the chance.
"I played them game one from a point of view of getting them condition. Game two was a critical game and we went out with an experienced side, but there's no doubt there were some fundamental errors in and around the ruck.
"I am concerned about how easy they walked through us in the middle ... New Zealand would be licking their lips with the thought of some of the defence in the middle tonight so we're going to have to be a lot better than that."
Both Sheens and Australian captain Darren Lockyer were disappointed with the second half performance against England which Sheens described as “pretty ordinary”.
“We’re in the Final and that’s a positive,” said Lockyer. “The second half … there’s a lot of guys not feeling good about things.
“As Tim said, we know we have a lot of work to do. The conditions played a part in that but at the same time we can do a lot better.”
For more information on the 2010 Four Nations go to www.rlfournations.com
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