Kangaroos set to name centre pairing - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kangaroos set to name centre pairing

By David Beniuk 19/10/2008 01:27:55 PM Comments (0)

Justin Hodges' withdrawal is likely to result in Australia fielding their youngest ever Test centre pairing in Sunday's World Cup opener against New Zealand.

Brisbane centre Hodges was ruled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury meaning Melbourne teenager Israel Folau will almost certainly move in a position from the wing alongside partner Storm teammate Greg Inglis.

Both were wingers when Australia last played a Test, against the Kiwis in May, but Mark Gasnier's defection to French rugby has opened up a spot for Inglis, who played in the centres for Queensland in this year's State of Origin series.

Folau played centre for Melbourne throughout the 2008 NRL season.

At a combined 41 years and 126 days, Folau, 19, and Inglis, 21, would become Australia's youngest centre pairing, beating the record of 42 years and 326 days set by Brent Tate and Jamie Lyon in 2003.

Folau said he would relish teaming up with Inglis.

"It would probably be one of the youngest centre pairings for Australia, it would be good to play with each other and represent our country," Folau told AAP.

"If the opportunity comes up I'll take it but, if not, I'll just play wherever (coach Ricky Stuart) puts me.

"It would be good just to be a bit closer to the action playing for Australia.

"I've never played in the centres for Australia so it would be good."

Folau was confident the young pair would have no trouble matching it with wily Kiwi centres Steve Matai, 24, and Jerome Ropati, 23.

Tate and Joel Monaghan are likely to be Australia's wingers at the Sydney Football Stadium although both play centre for their clubs and could do so for the Kangaroos.

Australia's backline had looked like being an exact replica of Queensland's before Hodges' injury, with New South Welshmen Gasnier, Matt Cooper and Jamie Lyon all unavailable for the World Cup.

But Monaghan now looks likely to be the lone Blues representative in the backs.

"I'd feel very happy about slotting into that backline," Monaghan told AAP.

"They've won three (Origin) series in a row so they obviously deserve where they are and they've got a combination going there in their backs.

"Obviously if you get a chance to play outside them they've got the combinations and they're just such special players.

"Some of the stuff that Israel Folau and Greg Inglis can do on a football field, not many other people can do, so just to be outside them would be something I'd treasure."

Monaghan, 26, prefers playing centre and said his experience could be a handy asset for Australia in that position.

"Obviously it would bring something to the team but you look at (Folau and Inglis) and personally I think they're two of the best players in the competition," he said.

"Playing for Australia it doesn't bother me one bit (where I play). Obviously in club footy centre's my preferred position but I'll play anywhere in an Australian side."

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

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