Here is the squad, coached by Stephen Kearney:
Full backs: Lance Hohaia, Sam Perrett
Wings: Manu Vatuvei, Jason Nightingale, Antonio Winterstein.
Centres: Shaun Kenny-Dowall, Junior Sau,
Halves: Benji Marshall, Thomas Leuluai,
Backrowers: Frank Pritchard, Lewis Brown, Greg Eastwood, Jeremy Smith, Bronson Harrison, Simon Mannering, Ben Matulino,
Props: Fuifui Moimoi, Frank-Paul Nuuausala, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Adam Blair, Sika Manu,
Hookers: Issac Luke, Nathan Fien,
This team is thin on centres and halves. Backrowers Mannering and Matulino are covers for centres. Fien can play scrum half, though he was probably chosen as a replacement half for Luke.
The likely 17 is:
Lance Hohaia/Sam Perrrett
Manu Vatuvei, Shaun Kenny-Dowell, Junior Sau, Jason Nightingale
Frank Pritchard, Jeremy Smith
Fui Fui Moi Moi, Isaac Luke, Frank-Paul Nuuausala,
Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Adam Blair, Bronson Harrison, Nathan Fien
Can England really contemplate beating this team?
Had Fien played longer in the Oz G/F he would have walked away with the MOM, he could not have been far off it as it was.
It was highly noticeable whom Wayne Bennett was discussing the game with at H/T. Always remember who was coach and for my money the most influential Player
in the last World cup, both were in the Kiwi camp: Bennet and Fien.
I would think that Hohaiha would be almost certain to start at F/B and that Lewis brown will also figure, he is a very good and skillful second rower. Moi Moi may be out of the take the field line up with Manu starting. I am surprised that McKendry from Penrith has not gained selection, unless he is injured?
They will miss Rapira though.
Actually I think that with a few decisions going their way the Kiwi's could carry this trophy off, the Aussies certainly will expect to have to do battle when they face them and will not be thinking that the outcome is a foregone conclusion, in our case I do not believe that they will be quite so concerned.
Should Sau not impress I would expect that Mannering would move to centre and Blair would come into the pack With Matulino or Harrison on the bench.