This weekend we will see a break in the NRL season and attention will switch to representative games. Normally, we would see NRL games played around such fixtures but since last year, they have made it a stand-alone weekend. There are positives and negatives to this situation and you could spend a whole day discussing those points. It does seem as though the fans are being duded extra football but the players and coaches have the largest voice (and so they should in terms of fatigue and player drain), so perhaps this is the best option for the longevity of the players throughout the competition. For most, it will be a well-deserved week off but for a few lucky players, they will have the opportunity to prove themselves at representative level. The headline act this weekend is undoubtedly the ANZAC Test match and the opening game to the representative weekend will kick off on Friday down in Canberra. There is always a rivalry between the Aussies and the Kiwi’s regardless of the competition and this is going to be no different. The concept of the ANZAC was born out of battle when both countries stood alongside one another in battle and if anything, it should be a celebration of those who paid the ultimate sacrifice for their country. Since 2008, the Aussies have had to deal with the fact that the Kiwi’s won the Rugby League World Cup and they are not afraid to mention it. This was very difficult to swallow for Australian league fans because they have always deemed themselves the “best in the world”. Full credit must go to the Kiwi’s because they played very well, although a lot of water has “passed under the bridge” and this is a different set of circumstances. The Kiwi’s tend to be at their best when they are together for an extended period of time and history has shown that the “one off Test” has never been helpful to them. They will always aim up to Australians and the fire that burns within them will be reignited every time they run out to face the Aussies. International football should always be the pinnacle of rugby league but for sometime now, SOO has dominated the representative landscape. This may shift somewhat this year, as there is a RLWC at the end of the season in the UK and France. No doubt, both sides will have one-eye on the end of the season and will try to develop combinations in and around that. There are limited opportunities to win some money on rugby league this weekend, so lets make the most of our chance and hopefully make this weekend better than we thought it would be.
1. Billy Slater 2. Darius Boyd 3. Greg Inglis 4. Justin Hodges 5. Brett Morris 6. Johnathan Thurston 7. Cooper Cronk 8. Matt Scott 9. Cameron Smith (capt.) 10. James Tamou 11. Greg Bird 12. Sam Thaiday 13. Paul Gallen Interchange: 14. Kurt Gidley 15. Luke Lewis 16. Nate Myles 17. Anthony Watmough 18. Josh Morris
As you can see from above, there aren’t too many shocks to the Kangaroos side for this game. They’re always going to name a strong side and are lucky that they haven’t been affected by injuries too much. A few people were still shocked with a few selections but now that Tim Sheens has been relinquished of his club duties, he has a lot more time to spend on selecting his side. He wants to play a certain style of football and has picked a side in and around that. James Tamou is a player who has struggled to find his feet this season. Things are made a lot more difficult when the Cowboys are not playing consistent football. Then again, he will partner his Cowboys teammate Matt Scott, just as they would in their club games and also play with JT. There is no trouble with their form on the field and they maintain a very high level. The difference between Scott and Tamou is their effectiveness. Scott is always going to get a job done for his side but sometimes Tamou relies (not by choice) on the performance of the team to get him going. He will not be out of place in this side yet might have found himself on the bench had Canberra prop Dave Shillington been fit. Kurt Gidley will play the utility role off the bench and his minutes are probably going to be limited. It was a welcome recall to the Kangaroo’s team for Gidley after a 2-year hiatus. In the past, Sheens has favored Robbie Farrah but with Gidley fit, he is going to offer a lot more to this side and except for prop, he can cover any position on the field, whereas Farrah was probably limited to the forwards. Luke Lewis’ selection was always going to be controversial, but after reviewing several of the Sharks performances this season, he is deserving of it. He has not been up to his usual standard but he is effective when the Sharks need him to be. Lewis’ form is no doubt being affected by the Sharks current performance. The Kangaroos strength is their backline. There were no surprises and they will look to move to the ball to these players and put them in a try scoring position when possible. Leading this cause will be Cronk and Thurston. Undoubtedly, these two players are the best halves in the competition and will lead the Kangaroo’s to victory. Unfortunately, NSW fans will get a look at just how difficult it will be for them to break the stranglehold that QLD have on the SOO series.
New Zealand Kiwi’s
1. Josh Hoffamn 2. Sam Perrett 3. Shaun Kenny-Dowall 4. Dean Whare 5. Jason Nightingale 6. Kiearn Foran 7. Shaun Johnson 8. Jesse Bromwich 9. Issac Luke 10. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves 11. Frank Pritchard 12. Kevin Proctor 13. Simon Mannering (capt) Interchange: 14. Elijah Taylor 15. Sam McKendry 16. Ben Matulino 17. Alex Glenn 18. Tohu Harris
Unlike the Australian’s, there was a lot of uncertainty surrounding the selection of the Kiwis side. This was largely due to the impact that injuries and suspensions have had on their team, but coach Stephen Kearny did make a few shock selections. You could almost name a side out of those who were omitted from this clash and they are influential players that could have really impacted on the outcome of this game. Those names include Benji Marshall (injury), SBW (injury), Jeremy Smith (suspension), Greg Eastwood (bereavement), Adam Blair (form) and Thomas Leuluai (form). Marshall was always going to miss this clash following the toe injury he sustained in the Tigers loss to the Storm. This is a big blow for the Kiwi’s but Marshall’s form has not been up to its usual standard but he is their captain and they would’ve been better off had they had him in their lineup. It was also a big blow for them having to do without SBW but many people were not surprised that he withdrew from this clash. The Roosters were never going to allow him to play for the Kiwis if there was even a hint that he was injured. It is reported that his knee is giving him some trouble and the break will give surgeons a chance to “clean up” some of the scar tissue in there. Kevin Proctor was called into the starting side to replace Smith and if he continues his form for the Storm, he is going to be a handful for the Aussies to handle. They have a very strong forward pack and it will be a great battle to watch, but they are let down in the backs somewhat. Fullback Josh Hoffman isn’t even the regular choice fullback for his club and Dean Whare is. You think that Kearny may swap these players around prior to kickoff but then again, Hoffman will no doubt slot back into that position once Corey Norman departs the Broncos. The two players that will have a lot resting on their shoulders will be Kieran Foran and Issac Luke. Both players have been in sublime form for their clubs and will be leading the Kiwi’s around the park. Both are tough footballers and will relish their role within their side. If they are pressured though, the chances of the Kiwi’s finding victory will become even tougher.
Overall = Kangaroos 92 Draw 4 Kiwis 29
Last 5 games = Kangaroos 5 Kiwis 0
TAB Sportsbet = Kangaroos $1.12 Kiwis $6.50
Centrebet = Kangaroos $.13 Kiwis $6.25
Sportsbet = Kangaroos $1.14 Kiwis $5.75
Betfair = Kangaroos $1.15 Kiwis $8.20
In this game it isn’t a matter of who will win, it’s a matter of how much the Aussies will win by. I am not writing off the Kiwi’s as a team, however they are a long way away from being full strength and will use this as preparation for the RLWC at the end of the season. They do not need to prove anything to anyone; the pressure is on the Australian’s to perform. They will also use it as preparation and while their combinations won’t take that long to come together, they need to ensure that they put in a dominating display as they’re at full strength. The Kiwis always lift to another level but we need to put things into perspective. There are a few players within their side that are out of form and they do not have a strong bench by any means. The initial impact that may be set by the starters will be difficult to maintain throughout the entire contest. The most likely margin is 13+, things will be tight early but the attacking ability of the Kangaroos will eventually prevail and the Kiwis will find it difficult to stick with them. This is always a difficult game to bet on because you are struggling to find value around Australia but check out the few options listed below.
Kangaroos 13+ @ $1.60
Kangaroos 13-18 @ $4.50 – I did promise value and most will agree that the suggested bet does not offer that. That is my safe selection for this game and if I wanted a little more value, this is the option I would take. 19+ is at $2.20 and getting out to that margin would make this game a bit of a “blow out”. That is a possibility, but given this is a test match, it is an option that I would like to take on.
Centre Success = Greg Inglis (FTS) @ $8 and/or Justin Hodges (FTS) @ $9 – The weakness for the Kiwis are definitely on their edges. SKD isn’t the best defender around and is prone to making the odd defensive mistake, while Dean Whare is a fullback that is has been moved back to centre. They are up against to world-class players and will have their hands full. One error in judgment may give either Inglis or Hodges the chance to get into a try scoring position.
I have followed Rugby League since I was young enough to watch it and growing up in Sydney, it was inevitable. I will always make it my business to watch all 8 NRL fixtures per week and follow it with more than just passion. During my playing career, I have played at several representative levels, with and against current players. I began writing previews on NRL games early on in 2012 and really found a passion within this. I enjoy listening to various people and their opinions on the game, and then forming my own. Coupled together with another passion, gambling, I soon learnt that there was a market out there for more than the rugby league diehards. Hopefully I can pass on my knowledge of the game to help you win some cash.
All of the above are the opinions of the author and are not recommendations or advice. The author may not be taking every bet listed above. Bet at your own risk.
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