Smith backs Hunt for 'Roos debut
As Daly Cherry-Evans continues to battle a hip muscle tear that kept him sidelined for the second half of Saturday night's 30-12 loss to the Kiwis, Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith has backed Broncos playmaker Ben Hunt as the man to fill the void.
A Test debut in a must-win match against England at AAMI Park in Melbourne this Sunday would cap off a memorable 2014 for the 24-year-old who made the Broncos' No.7 jersey his own this season.
If Cherry-Evans is officially ruled out of Sunday's do-or-die clash, statistically Hunt has proved he is not the downgrade many would think.
While Hunt played three more games than Cherry-Evans during the home-and-away season, he recorded six more try assists and nine more line breaks than the Manly half, as well as a total of 13 tries.
Kangaroos skipper Cameron Smith believes Hunt's chances of being handed a debut Australian jersey are now well within reach.
"I'd say it would be quite high this week given the question mark over Daly's fitness," said Smith.
"Even if he was to get up and play I'd dare say Tim would be thinking of a utility spot for Ben given we were left short for a half on the weekend."
"This might be Ben Hunt's chance to show everyone what he's got because he's had a great season so far."
While Australia waits to find out who will don the green and gold No.6 jersey this weekend, there are deeper issues to address for a Kangaroos outfit that was kept scoreless in the final 57 minutes of Saturday's tournament opener.
The Kangaroos had no answer as the Kiwis piled on three tries to none in the second half but is was not just that period that remains a concern.
"It wasn't just the second half," Smith said.
"We had a lot of areas throughout the match, our ball control was really poor and our defence was at times pretty average as well and that was the most concerning thing.
"We don't like living in the past but the way we won the World Cup last year was through a great defensive effort in all the matches we played and it just wasn't there against the Kiwis."
In the six World Cup games Australia played last year, the side didn't concede a single try after their opening match. All up the Kangaroos conceded just 24 points in six games and 480 minutes; the Kiwis managed to put 24 past them in just 50 minutes of play on Saturday night.
So while personnel may be a topic of debate during the week, behind closed doors there will be a key focus on rebuilding that green and gold wall.
Australia will take on England at 4pm on Sunday afternoon at AAMI Park.