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This week's Tri-Series action
The final round of the inaugural Tri-Series will take place this weekend, with Great Britain tackling New Zealand at KCS Stadium in Hull at 5.15am AEDST.
Meanwhile, the Australian team will meet France in Toulouse, in what should be an interesting contest. The Aussies have won the past 11 enciunters between the sides and the last time France outgunned the Green and Gold was in 1978, ironically in Toulouse. But the French have drummed up somewhat of a groundswell of support, nearly knocking over New Zealand last week and going out of their way to state their intentions to take the game to the Kangaroos.
The outcome of both games will have no effect on the final, with Australia playing Great Britain next week in what should be an absolute cracker of a game.
This probably does give some rise to a French boilover, with Australia looking to preserve themselves for the final and the Tri Colours having nothing to lose. Likewise, the Lions will be out to keep a clean sheet against the Kiwi?s in order to prepare themselves for their assault on the title.
All teams have sustained their fair share of injuries and trouble with the judiciary. For the Aussies, Craig Gower is battling to be fit for the final, with Darren Lockyer and Jason Ryles returning to take on France this week. Craig Fitzgibbon has gone home with a forearm injury and Mark O?Meley found himself on report for striking and will discover his fate tonight.
In the Kiwi?s camp, Ruben Wiki has gone down with a broken jaw and Sonny-Bill Williams is sitting out the final match with a shoulder muscle strain, plus the ongoing Thomas Leuleui injury crisis. And Great Britain has pulled through a flu epidemic, which struck most of the team down, to put themselves in a position to play their strongest team in the final.
With all these factors combining, the footy played out this week has the potential to displease, but New Zealand and France still have a lot to play for. They could really give both sides a firm workout leading up to the final, which is sure to make up for any sub-par performances next week.