Kurt Gidley is set to play his first game for Australia since 2010 after being named on the bench to take on New Zealand at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.
Coach Tim Sheens today named five changes to the side that beat New Zealand 18-10 in Townsville in October last year, with Kangaroos regulars Justin Hodges, Luke Lewis, Anthony Watmough and Sam Thaiday returning to the side after missing through injury in 2012.
Canterbury’s Tony Williams missed out on selection, the gigantic second rower paying the price for a slow start to the year for the Bulldogs, while Melbourne’s Ryan Hoffman was forced out of the team, and David Shillington missed out through injury.
Gidley’s last game for the Kangaroos was in their 2010 Four Nations final loss to the Kiwis at Suncorp Stadium. A dislocated left shoulder forced Gidley out of the 2012 season, in which he could only manage five games.
But Gidley’s ability to cover multiple positions earned him the nod in front of Wests Tigers' Robbie Farah and Manly Sea Eagles' Daly Cherry-Evans, who have previously filled the utility role.
The match should prove to be a good testing ground for both teams with a World Cup in England looming at the end of the season. New Zealand are the reigning World Cup champions, while Australia are the current Four Nations Champions.
The Australian team will come into camp on Sunday night in Coogee and will have a light training run on Monday morning before travelling to Canberra to begin preparations for Friday’s clash.
Australia side named on Sunday by Tim Sheens.
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
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