Round 20 of the #NRL opened with an emphatic Brisbane Broncos win over the Canterbury-Bankstown Bull...
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Test match football returns with arch rival hostilities set to resume
The annual mid season test weekend is well and truly upon us and the main course for the weekend is Friday night's blockbuster clash between the top two rugby league nations. These matches are historically hard hitting contests and don't expect this to be any different. Australia has been forced into changes with both Josh Papalii and Shannon Boyd scratched from the team. In comes in-form Cronulla prop Andrew Fifita who will be looking to take his chance with both hands in the engine room. Australia will lift for this match, Cameron Smith's 50th test for the Kangaroos.
New Zealand haven't been spoken about much in the media this week and I think that will suit it just fine. Its squad is one of the strongest it has named in a few years with powerful forwards all over the park. Expect to see a gameplan devised around these forwards come Friday. The Kiwi's have traditionally struggled in these mid season tests but have a chance to spoil the party at Canberra on Friday.
Last meeting: Four Nations 2016 Final - Australia 34 New Zealand 8
Who to watch: No surprises here for the Kangaroos. In his 50th test appearance keep your eyes glued on Cam Smith. He is the embodiment of consistency and will again attempt to dominate the ruck for the home side. One of the greatest hookers to play the game, Smith would love nothing more than a win on such a historic night. Look for his team mates to lift as they often do in milestone matches.
For the Kiwi's it will be the opposite number Isaac Luke who needs to stand up and be counted on Friday. Capable of busting open games with his footwork, pace and vision in the middle of the field the Kangaroos will need to watch the little number nine. His form has been slowly improving for the Warriors in club football and his combination with the halves (Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson) who he plays with at club level is sure to benefit the Kiwi's in this clash.
My tip: Hard to tip against the Aussies especially with Smith playing his 50th test as well as being at home. Think we will see a tough, physical opening followed by Australian opening up the Kiwi's out wide. Australia by 14.
1. Darius Boyd 2. Blake Ferguson 3. Will Chambers 4. Josh Dugan 5. Valentine Holmes 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Andrew Fifita 9. Cameron Smith 10. David Klemmer 11. Boyd Cordner 12. Matt Gillett 13. Trent Merrin 14. Michael Morgan 15. Jake Trbojevic 16. Tyson Frizell 17. Sam Thaiday
1. Roger Tuivasa-sheck 2. Dallin Watene Zelezniak 3. Jordan Kahu 4. Dean Whare 5. Jordan Rapana 6. Kieran Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Issac Luke 10. Russell Packer 11. Kevin Proctor 12. Simon Mannering 13. Jason Taumalolo 14. Adam Blair 15. Martin Taupau 16. Kenneath Bromwich 17. Kodi Nikorima