Aussie coach backs Storm boys to fire - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Aussie coach backs Storm boys to fire

By Ben Horne 29/04/2010 07:15:50 PM Comments (0)

Australia coach Tim Sheens doesn't believe the strong presence of Melbourne NRL players in the Test team will have a negative impact on the Kangaroos' preparations to play New Zealand next Friday.

Storm stars Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and if fit, Greg Inglis are certainties for the green and gold, while Cooper Cronk and Brett White are also prime candidates after touring with the Four Nations squad last year.

The fallout from Melbourne's salary cap scandal is continuing, with the Storm's Test stars right at the centre of investigations.

Sheens endured a salary cap drama when coach of the Canberra Raiders in the early 1990s and is confident he can help the Melburnians through a troubled period.

A concerned Sheens even phoned his Kangaroos vice-captain Smith, to ensure the Storm players were in the right mental state to take on the Kiwis.

"The Raiders had some issues some years back so I have actually been in that situation," said Sheens when asked if he was ready for the job of psychiatrist.

"I've already spoken to Cameron about how he's going and about how they're handling it down there and I'm confident that whichever members of the Storm side are selected (will cope).

"Cameron's comfortable with what's happening and that they'll be able to handle it, but I thought it was worthwhile giving them a call.

"He represents them pretty well down there and he knows what they're thinking. I don't want to go into length what we said but it was just a friendly call to see how they were going."

Sheens conceded the task which faces Storm players when they come into the Australian camp won't be easy, but he believes a chance to play in a competitive representative match might have a positive impact on their psyche.

"As long as they focus on what they've got to do in the Australian squad and not worry about what happens at the Storm that week, then probably getting away from it might be a blessing more so for them than constantly being harassed in Melbourne gear," Sheens said.

"It's one of those things where they've got to switch off. It's a Test match, they've got five days to get ready.

"Most professional players can do that but it'll be easier said than done."

With the Test to open the Storm's brand new AAMI Stadium base in Melbourne, Sheens is already anticipating huge media and public interest in the local players taking part.

Sheens is wary that the focus leading into the match could be more about off-field issues.

"Obviously it's in Melbourne and that's obviously another issue. But I'd be requesting of the players and of the media that it's a Test match, it's got nothing to do with what's happening in the NRL and that it would be left at that," he said.

Australian selectors face an anxious Saturday night to see if injured stars Johnathan Thurston and Greg Inglis get through the match between the Cowboys and Storm.

Sheens is also concerned about his front row stocks, with Ben Hannant and Steve Price out injured, and Brett White having played just one match this season and missing this weekend through suspension.

The coach refused to comment on whether Israel Folau would be snubbed from the Kangaroos side if he signed with Super Rugby franchise the Melbourne Rebels as expected.

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