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We choose: Australian Test team

Expect to see a familiar-looking lineup when the Kangaroos team is announced for the mid-year Test against New Zealand. Credit: Grant Trouville. Copyright: NRL Photos.

Tim Sheens take note: After hours of form research, checking on and not a small amount of soul-searching, NRL.com has come up with the following Kangaroos team for the one-off Test at Allianz Stadium on Friday May 2. The national selectors will name their squad at 5pm this Sunday. 

See NRL.com's New Zealand Test team
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See NRL.com's Country Origin team
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1. Billy Slater

'Billy the Kid' fought back hard from a knee injury to take his place in last year's World Cup final. His two tries in the Kangaroos' 34-2 win over the Kiwis was crucial in Australia reclaiming the 'Best in the World' mantle. While this year he has been more accustomed to setting up tries rather than scoring them (six try assists), the Storm fullback and 24-Test veteran is the unrivalled choice in the No.1.  

2. Brett Morris

Only 27, Brett Morris has already managed to cross for his 100th try in the Red V earlier this year. The 12-Test incumbent is renowned for his try scoring finesse and his nine tries in five Tests in last year's World Cup is a testament to that. His defence will not be lacking either – he has only missed one tackle per game in 2014. That's an important statistic considering he is more than likely to go head to head with 'The Beast' Manu Vatuvei.

3. Greg Inglis

South Sydney coach Michael Maguire was posed the question earlier in the year: "Have you ever considering playing Greg Inglis – one of the world's best centres – in that position?" Evidence of his pure value and versatility to the Rabbitohs, Maguire has gotten the best out of the Australian Test centre at fullback. While he's undeniably handy to have if ever Slater goes down, Inglis has crossed the white stripe 20 times in 23 appearances in the green and gold jersey.

4. Jarryd Hayne

If loyalty exists in the Australian Test team then Tim Sheens and co will ignore veteran Justin Hodges when it comes to naming their side next Sunday. Hayne was the equal top try scorer in last year's World Cup and has been phenomenal in a rejuvenated Eels side in 2014. Hayne has tallied five try assists, line breaks, and tries this season.

5. Darius Boyd

There's no mistake as to why Tim Sheens persists with four fullbacks in his back five. The Newcastle No.1 has been bolted onto the flank for the Kangaroos since 2008. His 16 Tests for Australia come courtesy of his much fancied work for Queensland and while Newcastle isn't having the best of seasons, we suspect Boyd will be making another May Test appearance.

6. Johnathan Thurston

The green-and-gold headgear will need a good dusting off because it goes without saying that Thurston will be picked; he has four man-of-the-match awards from the World Cup and the Golden Boot in his pool room at home. While the Cowboys are failing to play up to their potential once again, Thurston has still produced eight try assists for the North Queensland faithful. 

7. Cooper Cronk

While Melbourne's big three may not be as consistent in 2014 as they once were, when it comes to the big show they all lift. Cooper Cronk has been the Storm's shining light so far - his sublime strike rate of 10 try assists in six games in 2014 - without a stable five-eighth outside of him - is proof of his absolute class. On song, Thurston and Cronk are one of the more dangerous combinations in rugby league. 

8. Matthew Scott

Any selector looking for one player to set the foundations for victory in the first 20 minutes of a game would be foolish to overlook Matthew Scott. The Cowboys' prop has kicked off the season with 16 tackle breaks and an average of 141.1 metres per game is evidence of his workhorse capabilities. Scott will be essential if the game comes down to a grind. 

9. Cameron Smith (c)

Cameron Smith has missed one game for Melbourne in 2014... they lost 40-12. The man is astoundingly influential for his team, his state - and his country. His capabilities in defence and attack are that of a leader and the reason he has the little 'c' next to his name in all three teams he represents each year. Will be the first one picked for the Kangaroos.

10. James Tamou

Although he was a member of the World Cup-winning squad last year, many may be left wondering how Tamou regains in his spot for the Kangaroos in 2014. Well below his best in club games, averaging 118 metres thus far, Tamou only just managed to hold his starting spot in our 17 ahead of Andrew Fifita. His selection in the May Test could be the kick up the backside Tamou needs – vital for NSW when State of Origin rolls around in late May. 

11. Sam Thaiday

He may currently be on the shelf with a calf complaint but you would be wrong to think that Sam Thaiday is going to pull out of the upcoming showdown. The 23-Test veteran hasn't been exactly barnstorming in 2014, averaging less than 100 metres per game, although when you're surrounded by quality forwards like the Broncos have you're inevitably going to have to wait your turn to do something outstanding.

12. Greg Bird

An absolute menace who brings much-needed niggle to the team, Bird is one of just three NSW players to be pencilled into our run-on side. The Titans' co-captain has racked up almost a kilometre of running metres in 2014. He's not a bad goal-kicking option either – just ask his Melbourne Kangaroos teammates.

13. Corey Parker

While his starting position comes courtesy of Paul Gallen's injury woes this season, there's no denying Corey Parker's ability to turn a game on its head. Loved by all in the land of NRL Fantasy for his big numbers and involvement, Parker has managed to sustain his form in the front row this season. His move back to lock in the Australian side should come to no-one's surprise as he is more than capable of filling arguably his best position. 

Interchange

14. Daly Cherry-Evans

What do you do with the next big thing when the likes of Thurston and Cronk are ahead of him? Put him on the bench. Daly Cherry-Evans – or DCE as he's come to be known – proved his utility value at Origin level when he came in at lock throughout the 2013 series. While he had to toil hard to snatch the bench utility role from Robbie Farah's hands in the World Cup, DCE has pushed streets ahead since via his match-winning capabilities. 

15. Paul Gallen

While Sharks fans weren't quite able to sing 'Up Up Cronulla' after last week's game against the Roosters, they were all definitely excited that their captain Paul Gallen was finally back. His three offloads, 32 tackles, 19 runs for 140 metres, two line break assists and six tackle breaks last weekend should be enough to seal a bench spot.

16. Andrew Fifita

While it remains a mystery where he'll end up in 2015, there's only one place where you will find Andrew Fifita next Friday night – Allianz Stadium. While a two-week suspension would've hurt, Fifita has shaken off the recent controversy in his typical barnstorming fashion and should consider himself unlucky not to be starting. With 155.4 metres per game, he'll bring plenty of X-Factor.

17. Nate Myles

Just gets the nod over Anthony Watmough and Matt Gillett when it came down to deciding the final bench spot. Myles' 108.5 metres per game for the Titans this season, plus his aggressive defence, could be enough to see him warm the pine.

NRL.com's Australian Test side
1. Billy Slater
2. Brett Morris
3. Greg Inglis
4. Jarryd Hayne
5. Darius Boyd
6. Jonathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Matthew Scott
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. James Tamou
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Greg Bird
13. Corey Parker
14. Daly Cherry-Evans
15. Paul Gallen
16. Andrew Fifita
17. Nate Myles

NRL.com's New Zealand Test team

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