Sheens may use Jennings as shock weapon - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Sheens may use Jennings as shock weapon

By Steve Jancetic 12/11/2009 08:16:28 AM Comments (0)

Australian coach Tim Sheens is toying with the possibility of using Michael Jennings as a shock weapon in Saturday night's (Sunday AEDT) Four Nations final against England in Leeds.

The Penrith flyer has been named on an extended bench for the Elland Road match-up following his debut hat-trick against France last Saturday, with the final make-up of Sheens' final team to be determined by the weather gods.

Rain has been forecast for both Friday and Saturday, meaning Jennings' hopes may be sunk before they even have a chance to get off the ground.

Australia's lack of a X-factor off the bench was exposed in the 20-20 draw with New Zealand in their tournament opener, and Sheens does not want to be stuck in the same position should things get tight late in the contest.

"Jennings is still in the mix - he's a match-winner," Sheens said.

"I'm just playing that one close to my chest. I've told him to keep his shorts ready, that he's not just part of a squad.

"My main worry is will it be wet or will it be dry ... there's the referee - there's lots of things to consider before we finalise things."

"If it's wet and England go with the four big blokes we may have to go with some size."

A wet night seems to be England's best chance of causing an upset, having used the heavy conditions at Huddersfield last weekend to their advantage as they rumbled over New Zealand with their monster forward pack.

England coach Tony Smith is likely to go with a similar set-up against Australia - with four props in the starting side - and Sheens may be moved to counter that with some size of his own.

He has plenty of options to choose from, having named four forwards - David Shillington, Brett White, Anthony Watmough and Sam Thaiday - along with Jennings and utility Kurt Gidley on a six-man bench.

Watmough's relegation comes as a result of Luke Lewis' surprise inclusion in the starting line-up, with Lewis' strong form throughout the tournament and ball-playing skills helping him get the nod.

"I like Luke's ability and his size and his speed and he makes really good decisions in defence," Sheens said.

"The fact that he's played halfback and he's played second row and centre - that just shows you that he is a footballer, and I like football players.

"If they happen to be good athletes, that's a bonus.

"He's had great form, he hits as hard as any of our players, he's a natural right edge player and (Paul) Gallen's a natural left edge player."

Sheens denied Watmough's naming on the bench was a demotion, claiming instead that it was part of a strategy to use the Manly backrower closer to the ruck to keep an eye on England's dangerous halves combination of Kyle Eastmond and Sam Tomkins.

"Choc's going to play a lot of footy," Sheens said.

"Whether you start or whether you come on (later) - sometimes the game time's not much different."

Team: Billy Slater, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Brett Morris, Darren Lockyer (capt), Johnathan Thurston, Ben Hannant, Cameron Smith, Petero Civoniceva, Luke Lewis, Paul Gallen, Nathan Hindmarsh. Interchange: David Shillington, Sam Thaiday, Anthony Watmough, Kurt Gidley, Michael Jennings, Brett White (two to be omitted)

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