Sport

Anzac test for rookie

Shaun Johnson
Shaun Johnson Richard Robinson

HAD it not been for a hamstring injury to Kieran Foran, 23-game NRL rookie Shaun Johnson would be sitting in the stands at Eden Park tonight watching the Anzac Test with the fans.

Instead, Johnson will be the supporting act for New Zealand lynch pin, the brilliant skipper Benji Marshall. As the Kiwi halves, Marshall and Johnson have never played together and that is where the homeside faces its greatest dilemma.

Although 59-Test record holder Darren Lockyer will not be lining up in the green and gold for Australia, "newcomer" Cooper Cronk has played 13 Tests already and is a veteran of 191 NRL appearances.

On paper, and in reality, the match-up in the halves is a mismatch, because Kangaroos five-eighth Johnathan Thurston (22 Tests) found his best form of the season in Darwin last weekend.

Stacey Jones, regarded as perhaps one of New Zealand's greatest halfbacks, is a mentor to Johnson at the Warriors and concedes the 21-year-old may well be out of his depth in the Test arena.

"He has all the ingredients to make a great player, but he's still learning the game," said Jones. "This is a Test match and he's going to have to go out and perform, but the benefits of tonight are more likely to be seen later in his career."

The odds are stacked hugely against the Kiwis, even though they are playing at home. It is 14 years since they last won a Test in April, they have scored just two victories in their past 17 Test against the Kangaroos and Australia has won both Tests previously played at Eden Park.

Early fireworks are expected and the forward exchanges will be brutal, but once the heat goes out of the contest Australia will dominate defensively. And their strike power, particularly in the centres, gives them a huge advantage.

TEAMS:

New Zealand: Josh Hoffman, Jason Nightingale, Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Simon Mannering, Manu Vatuvei, Benji Marshall (c), Shaun Johnson, Sam McKendry, Issac Luke, Ben Matulino, Frank Pritchard, Adam Blair (vc), Jeremy Smith. Inter: Nathan Fien, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Jesse Bromwich, Alex Glenn.

Australia: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Justin Hodges, Akuila Uate, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Paul Gallen (vc), Cameron Smith (c), David Shillington, David Taylor, Sam Thaiday, Luke Lewis. Inter: Daly Cherry-Evans, Ben Hannant, James Tamou, Anthony Watmough. 18th man: Matt Gillett.

Topics:  kangaroos, rugby league


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Images of our shameful past

FOUND: Wade Thompson and Henry Thompson Jr at the Deebing Creek Mission Cemetery.

Images of our shameful past

Show out to deliver the thrills

The Safari Zoo is expected to be a big attraction for the kids.

Show out to deliver the thrills s

Aged care workforce in crisis

Shayne Neumann delivers flags to Bruce and Margaret Dobbie, Darryl Tocchetti and Penny Palmer.

Aged care workforce in crisis

Latest deals and offers

BREAKING: Mum's entire $12,000 bill waived

Urban Utilities waive $12,327.97 water bill after hearing mum's story

Multiple stabbing in domestic disturbance

Man under arrest after allegedly stabbing two people

Mystery witness comes forward in Sharron Phillips case

Police search for remains of Sharron Phillips in Cobalt St, Carole Park. Sharron Phillips went missing in 1986.

New development in 30-year-old murder mystery

Aldi to open new store in Ipswich

Basket of groceries from IGA.

German giant coming to suburban shopping centre

Web of broken promises leaves us with dud internet

SECOND BEST: Cr Paul Tully has lamented the poor internet service that afflicts parts of the city.

"We are going to end up with a second rate service across Australia"

Dog attack victim was trying to save chicken

A photo of a dog barking for a story about problem dogs barking in Ipswich neighbourhoods. Photo: Rob Williams / The Queensland Times

Council officers investigating early morning incident

Caitlyn Shadbolt, Sara Storer join Gympie Muster bill

Caitlyn Shadbolt performs at CMC Rocks in March 2016.

AWARD-winning singers star in third line-up announcement.

Bennett, Langer, Thurston and others talk Cam Smith

Broncos and former QLD coach Wayne Bennett.

Broncos and former QLD coach plus past and present players talk about Cameron...

Barnaby Joyce talks Johnny Depp's dogs in Tweed

Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce talks about Johnny Depp's dogs Pistol and Boo...

Billy Slater talks Origin Team

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater.

Queensland Origin great Billy Slater talks about this years team and his return to...

Own Sunshine Coast property? You’re about to make money

UP AND UP: Property owners are likely to win from rent and price increases but tenants and first home buyers might not be so happy. Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

Good new for property owners, not so good for buyers and tenants.

Sale nears on last large block of land in Coolum

The 43.37ha property on South Coolum Rd has sold.

South Coolum Rd property to be land banked