Sterling Gold: My Australian Test lineup

He may have taken the unprecedented step of talking himself out of a Test jersey last season but for Petero Civoniceva normal transmission should be resumed when the Australian squad is named on Sunday evening.

In what was arguably the most selfless act we have seen when it comes to representative football, the Aussies' most capped forward told coach Tim Sheens that his form did not warrant selection for last year's Four Nations decider.

For some people this decision at 34 years of age and his absence from that loss to the Kiwis was seen as the drawing of a curtain on one of the great representative careers.

I'm happy to say that any such thoughts have been proven to be premature and the Penrith skipper should be one of the first players chosen to again wear the green and gold against New Zealand on May 6.

In a Panthers side that has struggled through the opening seven rounds of the season, the big fella has been an absolute colossus and has done his very best to lead the team out of trouble. His work-rate has been typically outstanding, full of powerful charges and crunching tackles.

Last weekend against Manly he and young up-and-coming prop Tim Grant played the same amount of minutes. In that period of time they made the same amount of tackles yet Petero managed 21 hit-ups for a gain of 168 metres to Tim's 14 carries for 86 metres.

In my opinion he is one of a select number of players who are certainties to take on the current world champions.

Whilst a last Test loss may mean that incumbency is not necessarily as strong a consideration as usual, I have no doubt that Darren Lockyer, Cameron Smith, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen, Matt Scott and Billy Slater have already been pencilled in alongside both Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis.

That leaves some conjecture when it comes to wing, one centre and back-rower and the bench.

On the flanks despite an uncustomary barren try-scoring run Brett Morris has done enough to retain his spot, while injuries to both Darius Boyd and Lote Tuqiri make it much easier to include the suspended Jarryd Hayne.

We will see an entirely different centre pairing to the World Cup final in which Willie Tonga was partnered by Brent Tate.

Despite a strong start by Tonga for North Queensland, Greg Inglis will slot in at left centre leaving a battle royal between Justin Hodges and Mark Gasnier for the other side of the field. This is an embarrassment of riches because both players have strong claims.

In a photo finish I'd be opting for Hodges who has been unstoppable in his five games back from injury. This would also allow the dangerous Brisbane right side attack of Lockyer, Thaiday and Hodges to operate together which would be particularly advantageous.

As usual there is also a wealth of talent available for the back-row despite Luke Lewis being on the sidelines.

However no one is in better form than the Dragons' Ben Creagh who is now as consistent as he is damaging and is the perfect option for a left edge.

That leaves the bench for which the ultra-versatile Kurt Gidley is an obvious choice. His form for Newcastle has been superb and whilst I'm a Cooper Cronk admirer the Novocastrian gives the squad much more flexibility.   

If there are to be any shocks it would be in the forwards named as interchange with rookie Trent Merrin thrown up during the week as a possible thunderbolt.

The Test arena is not a place where risks need to be taken and I would think that a fit-again Michael Weyman, Raiders enforcer David Shillington and workaholic Nate Myles would round the squad out nicely.

On the same night in Albury there will also be a close eye kept on the performances of plenty of individuals in the annual City-Country fixture with the up-coming Origin in mind.

That will be nothing new for Jamie Soward, who has been under the microscope since stepping into the top grade.

It will be interesting to see if he feels the need to change his approach at all following the revelation through the week from former Blues selector Laurie Daley that the concern over him was in the attacking side of his game, not defensive.

Laurie felt that the depth with which he plays makes it difficult to take the opposition "on", and also has an effect on the means and success of bringing players into the attack on the edges. That is one area that NSW have seen as an avenue they could possibly take advantage of against a Queensland outfit that has few weaknesses.

Fullback Josh Dugan seems certain to again have the opportunity to push his claims for a sky blue jersey and will be keen to reproduce his man-of-the-match performance for Country last year.

Like his club side, Josh has had an up and down start to 2011 and whilst there is no doubting his quality there is still a question mark over durability. He has had a tendency to take his time recovering from tackles and his body language is often poor as a result.

I really see the Panthers' Michael Gordon coming strongly into the frame at either fullback or on the wing for the Blues. His club form has been tremendous, which is a continuation of the kind of football that earned him an impressive Origin debut in game 3 last year.

That match also saw NSW introduce three new front-rowers to interstate football in Kade Snowden, Tim Mannah and Jason King.

I'd like to throw another in the mix for this year in the shape of Keith Galloway.

The Tigers redhead has taken some time to mature into the rigours of a top class number 10 but he has progressed to now be a formidable stumbling block on a weekly basis.

With Origin coach Ricky Stuart in attendance and speaking to both teams before kick-off there is an immediate understanding that this clash could prove to be a most significant night for any number of players.

Along with those already mentioned, for the likes of Mitchell Pearce, Jarrod Mullen, Jamal Idris, Greg Bird, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Dean Young, Michael Jennings, Robbie Farah, Michael Ennis, Josh Morris, Aiden Tolman, Akuila Uate and Will Hopoate it might not be exactly make or break, but a big performance would be most timely.

Peter Sterling's Kangaroos 17
1. Billy Slater
2. Brett Morris
3. Justin Hodges
4. Greg Inglis
5. Jarryd Hayne
6. Darren Lockyer
7. Johnathan Thurston
8. Matt Scott
9. Cameron Smith
10. Petero Civoniceva
11. Sam Thaiday
12. Ben Creagh
13. Paul Gallen

14. Kurt Gidley
15. Michael Weyman
16. David Shillington
17. Nate Myles