Kanagroo Centenary Test Team:
1. Billy Slater – A walk up start, simply had to be picked. Quite possibly the form player of the NRL in the past 3 rounds
2. Israel Folau – Another easy choice, with a lack of quality centres in the NRL today especially on the NSW side of the equation – Folau virtually picked himself.
3. Mark Gasnier – While Gaz has the best shimmy and one of the most potent sidesteps in the NRL, his form hasn’t been great and with recent injury keeping him out of grade – some may have felt he was underdone. Rarely disappoints however at test level.
4. Justin Hodges – The maturing bad boy continues to improve, virtually getting back to his original Roosters form before the major leg injury – he has the step and the strength to have a big impact in what will be a physical match.
5. Greg Inglis – Another Storm addition, Inglis has quickly found his feet since returning from a long layoff. Is playing better on the fringes and growing in confidence.
6. Darren Lockyer – Still ice-cool in the tight situations, even if only 75% fit – Locky just had to be there. Will not let anyone down in this historic match.
7. Jonathan Thurston – Pushed hard by Scott Prince, but always had the no. 7 jersey covered. It’s not just his skills and trick bag that he brings, the passion and desire from this man is something from yesteryear – a la Wally Lewis.
8. Brent Kite – Probably lucky to get a run, has been in only average form and would personally admit he is far from his best. Can be predictable at times, his one-dimensional runs making him easy pickings for opposing teams.
9. Cameron Smith – If Mike Hussey is Mr. Cricket, then Cam Smith is certainly Mr. Rugby League. Possessing a smart football brain, he will guide the team around well from dummy half. Tough, calm and a handy backup kicking option in play.
10. Petero Civoniceva – Surprised many by gaining selection. While not playing poorly, Petero certainly hasn’t set the world on fire. He always gives 110%, but really – if the team was picked on form, Petero should not have retained his spot.
11. Paul Gallen – Obviously the coaches player. No doubt Ricky Stuart would have had a big say in getting Gallen on board. While playing good footy, competition for backrowers is ultra tight and it’s probably Gallens physical nature that won the selectors over.
12. Ryan Hoffman – The workhorse rarely disappoints, gets through a stack of dirty work and will be the one chipping away should things get tough. He is the new age Nathan Hindmarsh.
13. Greg Bird – A talented ball playing forward that adds good utility value. Has worked hard to cut the dirty tactics from his play and has curbed his aggression well. A credit to coach and player for cutting the crap out, shouldn’t disappoint anyone on game day.
14. Kurt Gidley – Was always going to get a start somewhere, as he will for NSW. Blinding pace, probably the best acceleration over 10m when compared to any other player. Punches well above his weight and is rarely hurt.
15. Willie Mason – Will breathe a sigh of relief after a couple of average matches. His presence alone will distract the Kiwi’s and big Willie will be looking to get one up on David Kidwell after that hit.
16. Carl Webb – The enforcer was added for his aggression. While he won’t play big minutes, his addition will give Ricky Stuart confidence knowing that should things turn nasty he can unleash the beast.
17. Anthony Tupou – A great impact player from the bench and will be ideal in this situation. When starting players start to tire, the explosive injection of Tupou will be a healthy shot in the arm for the Australians. A smart choice by the selectors.