By Stephen Gallagher
The top two ranked sides will wrestle in Perth where Western Australia gets to experience international rugby league at its best for the first time.
A sold out NIB Stadium will be packed with 20,000 fans covering both Kiwi and Kangaroo supporters.
The Kangaroos got the better of a weak Kiwis side in the ANZAC Test in May, and 16-0 scoreline was probably a fair result.
That was the last time Stephen Kearney coached the Kiwis, and a new reign starts under David Kidwell on Saturday.
Queensland legend Mal Meninga takes his second test in charge of Australia, and will look to continue his winning ways as he’s picked a side based on talent and form. Something which hasn’t been done over the last three years where the Kiwis have dominated them.
This makes the Kangaroos exciting and dangerous. There’s been a lot written of fans and supporters not happy with his selection, but his side has plenty to worry the Kiwis.
The obvious of omission of Clive Churchill Medalist Andrew Fifita is a message being sent out from the coach about ‘no dickheads’. Which is fair enough. As great as his form has been for Cronulla over the last two seasons, Mr. Fifita has a lot to go in terms of not being a giant knob.
Meninga’s enforced ‘no dickheads’ policy can only go so far though, otherwise the Kangaroos wouldn’t be able to front a team.
The Kiwis 17 has produced two debutantes, with another in the 18th man jersey.
Despite his Tongan origins, Solomone Kata is donning the black in what could be a lethal combination with wing partner Jason Nightingale.
Nightingale will have the defensive side of things covered, and Kata needs not to rush out of the line to expose his wingman.
The other debutante lies on the other wing, outside Rooster Shaun Kenny-Dowall; and that’s Jordan Rapana.
Easily the best winger in the 2016 season, his form was electric, and had no problem finding the line and busting tackles doing so.
23 tries was the equal highest of the season, and if SKD can set up Rapana early, expect him to get a meat pie.
The Kiwi forwards selected were predictable, yet destructive. Jared Waerea-Hargreaves makes it back in to the Kiwi jersey for the first time in awhile, which shows that Stephen Kearney did have a vendetta against him.
Captained by Jesse Bromwich, the Storm’s best player third year in a row shows that their is a lot of faith in this barnstorming enforcer.
The bench is made up by four tough blokes ready to take on the Kangaroos.
The Aussies have picked three rookies in their 17. Valentine Holmes shots on to the wing in a dangerous position where he lit up the Premiers right edge.
Tyson Frizell, who has represented Wales in previous international matches gets to make his green and gold debut. His stature is tall, and his work ethic is great. He will be a dynamic player and hard to stop.
The biggest of them all is Raider Shannon Boyd, weighing in at 122kgs, he will be the wrecking ball to try break down the big physical defence of the Kiwis forwards.
There’s a lot to be excited about if you’re a Kangaroos fan – Much like New Zealand, you could call this a new era.
I’m very excited about this match, because it’s two strong sides going head to head.
There’s a high expectation of attacking football to be put on display. The line up of Leuluai and Johnson versus Cronk and Thurston is going to be satisfying as a fan.
It’s really down to what happens in the lead up, and how much space these guys can get.
The result? I am picking the Kangaroos to win this one. I’m hyped up for a big battle, I just think the Kangaroos will find a way to get the result. A late penalty or try. Kangaroos by 4.
The only worry I have, is finding what to do before this late kick off!
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