Australia coach Tim Sheens insists selecting Todd Carney and Darius Boyd for Saturday’s Four Nations rugby league clash with New Zealand is form-related, and not just to rest captain Darren Lockyer and Billy Slater.
Carney and Boyd replace Lockyer and Slater at five eighth and fullback respectively, and are two of seven changes named in the Kangaroos side to take on the Kiwis at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Todd Carney, Chris Lawrence, Matt Scott and Dean Young have all been selected to make their Kangaroos Test debuts against New Zealand.
Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Brent Tate, Chris Lawrence, Lote Tuqiri, Todd Carney, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Dave Shillington, Greg Bird, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen.
Interchange: Dean Young, Petero Civoniceva, Tom Learoyd-Lahrs, Robbie Farah, Kurt Gidley.
Sheens said the selections of Boyd and Carney were merit-based and not because the Eden Park match is a dead rubber with the two unbeaten teams set to meet again in the final in Brisbane.
“Billy has as shoulder injury that he has been managing and Darren has taken some pretty heavy knocks and it’s well known that at the back end of the season he had some significant issues with injury,” Sheens said.
“Darren could play if he had to, but I am very confident with these two lads coming into the side.
“Positions six and one seem to be the argument that everyone is having about the team but there is no doubt that Carney and Boyd have been in better form all year than their counterparts and I don’t think we lose anything by giving those two a chance.
“That is why they are in the team.”
North Queensland Cowboys prop Scott comes into the starting side with veteran Petero Civoniceva dropping to the bench, while Wests Tigers centre Lawrence replaces Willie Tonga and St George Illawarra hooker Young gets a spot on the bench.