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3 days ago
Gorden Tallis has questioned whether Australia should persist with Andrew Johns and Darren Lockyer as a halves combination.
NSW and Newcastle halfback Johns linked up with Queensland and Broncos five-eighth Lockyer for the first time last Friday night as Australia suffered its first loss in Sydney to New Zealand for 46 years.
Coach Wayne Bennett has stuck with the star pairing when Australia seeks to reverse the 38-28 Tri-Nations series loss in Auckland tomorrow night.
But ex-Broncos skipper Tallis has broken ranks with his former coach by suggesting a selection rethink.
Tallis said former teammate Lockyer looks "tired" and he also believes the Australian captain and Johns - his rival for the mantle of world's best player - may not complement each other's style of play.
"Darren Lockyer is not playing like Darren Lockyer plays," Tallis said.
"There's no player in rugby league under more pressure than Darren Lockyer, while Andrew Johns is relatively fresh after missing a lot of this year with injury."
Tallis said part of the problem with the Johns-Lockyer halves combination is that both are ball players.
"Maybe Johns and Lockyer don't really complement each other," he said.
Tallis said Trent Barrett, drafted into the test side for game two of the Tri-series, might be a better option at five-eighth.
"Barrett's more of a ball runner," Tallis said.
Tallis stopped short of saying Lockyer should return to fullback where he dominated the game before switching to the no.6 jumper two years ago.
Tallis said the Johns-Lockyer partnership had similar problems to Allan Langer's combination with Laurie Daley at test level during the 1990s.
"They were two legends but they didn't really click," he said.
The Kangaroos flew from Sydney to Auckland under intense pressure to turn around the disappointing performance against the Kiwis last week.
Much of the build-up to the Auckland test has focused on Bennett following criticism of his tactics in the game, particularly employing backrower Trent Waterhouse in the centres to cover for the loss of injured winger Timana Tahu.