'Roos are the team to beat -

Brian Noble believes Australia are still Tri-Nations favourites and has predicted Craig Gower will be named Andrew Johns' halfback replacement for next Saturday's clash between the countries.

After watching his side lose 42-26 to New Zealand at Loftus Road yesterday morning which putting the Kiwis on top of the tournament ladder with their second win in three games, the Great Britain coach said the defending champions remained the team to beat.

"Australia - at the start of the competition you would have said Australia," Noble replied when asked to frame a personal market for the series.

"They've had a couple of hitouts and probably put the cue in the rack a couple of times. That's no disservice to the Kiwis."

Australia coach Wayne Bennett and assistant Craig Bellamy attended the game, with their players being given the night off after a physical training session at St Johns College.

Prop Jason Ryles was forced off during the run with a quadriceps injury but a team spokesman said there were no concerns over his fitness.

Bennett will name his side on Tuesday for the JJB Stadium game against Britain, with Clive Churchill Medal winner Scott Prince tipped to get the No.7 shirt ahead of the more experienced Gower.

But Noble said: "I think it will be Gower although I wouldn't be surprised if he puts Scott Prince in.

"It will be interesting. I don't think he'll change too much, Wayne.

"He had a lot of success last year with Gower. He might surprise us all and start Trent Barrett in the halves."

The Australians have been in London since Friday but bussed north to Manchester on Sunday afternoon.

Among the activities tournament promoters have planned for them is a visit to Manchester United, where Bennett is expected to meet similarly durable figurehead Sir Alex Ferguson, and skipper Darren Lockyer flying in an RAF fighter jet.