Australia’s big win over Ireland gives coach Sheens some selection headaches

Andrew Fifita

Whilst the big win is one that the Kangaroos will take and look to build on, the task for Tim Sheens to pick his best side moving forward will not be an easy one, with several positions still up in the air.

After a strong showing from players that were not initially named in the opening game, it gives Sheens selection headaches – but the veteran coach says that come the game against the USA Tomahawks, he will field his strongest side.

With Australia adopting a fringe rotation throughout the World Cup, Sheens will pick the best 17 so far.

“I didn’t get any injuries so I’ve got to come close to picking probably our best 17 on the next game,” Sheens said.

“It’s a real headache for me because we’ve got so many guys playing well.

“I’ve got a couple of contentious positions in particular but we’ll work on that during the week.”

Despite the big win over the Irish side, the Australians lacked cohesion and fluidity at times and Sheens puts that down to the constant chopping and changing of the side – a fault of his own.

“I blame myself a bit for that,” Sheens said.

“…. All the halves have had a couple of runs, they’re as cranky as hell about that as I know they’re all competitive.

“But at the end of the day we’ve achieved after the three pool games to lead our pool and we’ve played pretty well.

“I think we can play better so I’m hoping we’ll improve that.”

For the Irish side, whilst the tournament was not a great one in retrospect – the Irish side lost all three of their pool games – coach Mark Aston was pleased with his side’s effort.

“It was always going to be tough. We were playing high-quality opposition,” he said.

“But I’m proud of what we served up. They had double the sets we had and the penalty count played a big part. It’s hard enough playing the best in the world without not getting the bounce of the ball and the rub of the green.

“But we stuck in, had a dig and showed character.”

With rugby league in Ireland still a developing sport, Aston knows that the challenge is getting players to come on board from Union and immerse themselves in the league culture.

“We’d like a level playing field and we only got together three Saturdays ago,” he admitted.

“There are 48 development officers for rugby union in this area alone. How can we get them to play rugby league? But we will be smart and do what we can.

“Tonight we needed to make sure we were loud and proud and we were.”

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