Slater sails towards Kangaroos call-up - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Slater sails towards Kangaroos call-up

By Steve Jancetic 20/04/2008 07:34:25 PM Comments (0)

Billy Slater has been gift-wrapped the Australian No.1 jumper and superstar five-eighths Darren Lockyer and Benji Marshall put their hands up for international duty on Sunday by declaring their intention to play next weekend.

Lockyer and Marshall are both set to return from knee injuries for round seven, heightening the possibility they will go head to head when Australia meet New Zealand at the SCG on May 9.

The Australian side is set to be named on Sunday night, with Lockyer only needing to get through Friday night's match against South Sydney to ensure his name is read out by Test selectors.

He's likely to be joined by Storm sensation Slater, whose main challenger for the fullback role, Brisbane custodian Karmichael Hunt, was on Sunday ruled out for up to three weeks with a soft tissue knee injury.

Slater, along with Gold Coast playmaker Scott Prince, has been the form player of the competition, leading the league with six tries heading into Monday night's game against Canberra.

Across the Tasman, news of Marshall's imminent return will be music to the ears of New Zealand selectors who were facing a shortage of halves for the historic match, to be played 100 years to the day of the first Test match.

Wests Tigers coach Tim Sheens said both Marshall and hooker Robbie Farah were likely to play against Cronulla on Sunday, a massive boost for the Tigers who got their season back on track with a 30-10 win over Souths on Sunday to end a three-match losing streak.

"There's a very strong chance Benji will play and more than 50 per cent chance Robbie will play," Sheens said.

"He has to complete training and get knocked over and do his defence and do everything that's required and do it full on, simple as that.

"We're getting a little bit back ... Marshall and Farah will make a huge difference to the options we have in the seven, six and nine area.

"It gives me a pleasant headache if they're both available."

That headache turned into a bit of a migraine with Mathew Head superb for the Tigers as he orchestrated a brilliant second-half resurgence.

Sheens is a keen admirer of John Morris's play at halfback when surrounded by Marshall and Farah, so despite Sunday's performance, Head could yet find himself on the outer when the team is read out on Tuesday.

"I want (Head) to run more and he's got to defend well and he's got to continue to improve his fitness, find an extra yard in speed - I don't want much do I," Sheens said.

"He ran a little bit more today, he can't remember the last time he did have a run ... he's got a long way to go yet. His Wests Tigers education is in its infancy."

Elsewhere on Sunday Newcastle came from behind to beat the Sydney Roosters 34-20 in Gosford with Knights utility Kurt Gidley doing his chances of snaring the NSW No.7 jumper no harm with a strong game.

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