Kiwis name strong lineup for Aussie clash - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Kiwis name strong lineup for Aussie clash

03/11/2010 10:55:43 AM Comments (0)

Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney has dismissed talk of a dead rubber and named his strongest team for Saturday's Four Nations rugby league Test against Australia in Auckland.

Seasoned forwards Adam Blair and Frank Pritchard and rising star Ben Matulino return after missing the 76-12 romp against Papua New Guinea in Rotorua last weekend.

While the two unbeaten teams will clash again on Saturday week in the series final in Brisbane, Kearney said the sole focus was on winning this week's encounter.

It's important for the sport in New Zealand as the feature match of an historic double-header at rugby union's stronghold Eden Park.

Prop Blair replaces debutant Sam McKendry while Pritchard and Matulino secured places on a five-man interchange bench with Sika Manu retaining his starting role in the second row and Sydney Roosters forward Jared Waerea-Hargreaves dropping out.

"As it has been throughout this campaign, it was a really difficult side to select," Kearney said.

"If anything, it has got harder every week with all players pushing for spots.

"It's obviously disappointing for those who miss out but our commitment is to pick the side we believe is the best suited to perform for us against Australia this week.

"Our only interest is this week and this match against the Kangaroos.

"Every Test we play is extremely important to us, especially when we have the chance to test ourselves against Australia.

"We don't go along with any talk of this being a dead rubber. It's a Test against Australia and this is also a really important occasion for the game in our country with the match being played at Eden Park."

Blair's inclusion means there is just one change to the starting forward pack and there are two on the bench but the backline remains unchanged from the one used against the Kumuls.

In that match, left centre Junior Sa'u and his wing partner Sam Perrett both scored hat-tricks while right winger Jason Nightingale and fullback Lance Hohaia also scored tries.

When the Kiwis and Australia last met in the Anzac Test in Melbourne in May, the home side prevailed 12-8 on a wet night.

England's Richard Silverwood has been appointed to control the match.

New Zealand: Lance Hohaia, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Junior Sa'u, Sam Perrett, Benji Marshall (captain), Nathan Fien, Frank Paul Nuuausala, Thomas Leuluai, Adam Blair, Sika Manu, Simon Mannering, Jeremy Smith. Int: Issac Luke, Greg Eastwood, Frank Pritchard, Ben Matulino. 18th man: Bronson Harrison.

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