EELS HOLD ON | A big win for a struggling Parramatta Eels outfit today in Newcastle over an equally ...
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Although Petero Civoniceva carved out some hard yards in Sunday's 20-6 Tri Nations series win over Great Britain he's keen to keep playing to be more match-toughened for the Tri Nations final on November 26 in Leeds.
Coach Wayne Bennett is far from settled on his 17 players for Australia's Tri Nations title defence at the end of the month despite the Kangaroos' victory over Great Britain at the weekend which left the Lions faint hope of making the final.
Bennett will give the six unused players - forwards Nathan Hindmarsh, Craig Gower, Andrew Ryan, Trent Waterhouse and Ben Creagh and winger Eric Grothe - their opportunity to push for selection in the French test against a side sure to be well prepared by Australian coach John Monie.
He also have to decide whether to give Scott Prince another run at halfback inside Darren Lockyer or to have a look at a Gower-Lockyer combination.
He may even opt to rest Lockyer and go with a bigger Gower-Trent Barrett combination against the Frenchmen.
Bennett will use the test against France and the Kangaroos' final Tri Nations round robin clash with Great Britain in Hull on November 19 to finalise his line-up for the final - in all likelihood against New Zealand which leads the competition table.
While Civoniceva is keen to keep playing, test prop partner Steve Price will rested ahead of the decider to recover from niggling injuries and Mark O'Meley is likely to partner Civoniceva in the font-row.
Grothe could get a start on Brent Tate's wing while Hindmarsh will start in the second-row, looking to reclaim the test jumper he lost because of the knee injury suffered on the eve of the NRL finals.
He realises Hindmarsh, if he comes through Friday's test strongly, and Craig Fitzgibbon have the jump on him for a second-row spot in the final but more good form could convince Bennett he has something to offer.
"I'm a bit underdone but that was a pretty good hit out," said Mason after playing most of the second half against Great Britain off the bench and featuring in a game-saving play 10 minutes from full time.
"I was pretty happy. I didn't let anyone down.
"With Hiney (Hindmarsh) coming back, he and Craig (Fitzgibbon) are probably the premier back-rowers in the world.
"You need blokes ahead of you, it makes you play a bit better."