Kangaroos v Kiwis
Rabbitohs skipper, Greg Inglis, will run out for his 35th Test Match on Friday night in Newcastle when Australia takes on New Zealand in the annual ANZAC Test.
Inglis will take his place in a star-studded Aussie line-up bristling with a combination of experience and youth. Captained by Cameron Smith, and coached by Test legend, Mal Meninga, the side is well-placed to avenge recent losses to the high-flying Kiwis.
For Inglis, the honour of playing a milestone 35th Test is not lost on him, nor is the honour of being part of Kangaroos camp to begin with.
“It’s always great to represent Australia, without a doubt – when you throw numbers out that this is going to be my 35th Test – it does makes me seem a bit old,” laughed Inglis when he spoke to Rabbitohs.com.au earlier in the week.
“There’s a few games I remember, and there’s a few that I don’t, but most things that I do remember are coming into camp and enjoying time around the boys.”
Partnering GI in the Kangaroo centres will be St George Illawarra’s Josh Dugan – also a regular fullback playing out of position. But the shift hasn’t perturbed Inglis.
“I’ve played it (centre) long enough and I do know my role” said Inglis.
“The best thing about it is the great communicators around me. JT (Johnathan Thurston) is inside me and he gives really good, clear instructions and directions. We’ve played together for so many years and slotting back there – I won’t be a stranger to it.”
The clash will be the 130th in the Trans-Tasman rivalry, with Australia holding the balance of power with 95 wins to New Zealand’s 32, while only three matches have been drawn.
But while the Kangaroos hold an imposing record against the black and white’s, recent history has seen the Kiwis take the cake on more occasions than the Australians would have liked, resulting in their number one standing in the game’s rankings.
But when it comes to the ANZAC Test, New Zealand snapped a long run of outs in this traditional mid-season fixture last year, downing the Aussies 26-12 after 14 straight losses dating back to 1999.
But Coach Meninga has confidence in his men.
“This is a well-balanced squad and I’m extremely happy with it,” Meninga said of his Aussies.
“We have some experience as well as a handful of younger players who I am looking forward to seeing in this arena.
“It is the fourth most experienced line-up in Australia’s Test history but there will also be four players making their debuts.
“This is an incredibly important game for this group. I want to ensure the players have pride in the national jumper and my goal is to establish the Kangaroos back at the top of the international rankings.
“We have a Four Nations tournament at the end of this year and then a World Cup in 2017. This is the start of an important journey for the Kangaroos.”
Spotlight – Greg Inglis
The ‘Goanna’ may be his thing, but when it comes to adaptability, Greg Inglis more closely resembles a Phoenix. While being selected at centre technically means GI will be playing out of position, don’t expect that to hinder the Rabbitohs’ impact. In a time before the master-stroke decision was made to shift him to fullback, Inglis was proclaimed the world’s best centre, winning Dally M awards to that effect. And don’t forget that he also picked up a Clive Churchill Medal playing at five-eighth for the Storm. In short, Inglis not only adapts, but manages to excel no matter where he is.
The Australian Kangaroos side is:
1. Darius Boyd
2. Semi Radradra
3. Greg Inglis
4. Josh Dugan
5. Blake Ferguson
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Matthew Scott
9. Cameron Smith
10. Paul Gallen
11. Josh Papalii
12. Matt Gillett
13. Corey Parker
14. Josh McGuire
15. Michael Morgan
16. James Tamou
17. Sam Thaiday
18. Aidan Guerra