Australia coach, Tim Sheens, believes he has ‘covered every scenario’ with his selection for the Rugby League World Cup opener against England on Saturday.
Sheens had plenty to consider with such a strong squad at his disposal. He has chosen Brent Tate rather than Michael Jennings to replace the injured Justin Hodges, while Robbie Farah starts on the bench ahead of Daly Cherry-Evans.
Sheens wants the Wests Tigers captain to take advantage of fatigue in the latter stages of the match at the Millennium Stadium.
“I like the idea of Farah’s dummy-half running against the English forwards, especially when they get tired,” he told NRL.com.
The 62-year-old added Farah’s introduction would see skipper, Cameron, Smith move to lock. The player impressed fans placing rugby league bets when the Kangaroos beat New Zealand 18-10 in Townsville last October.
Farah also provides half-back cover for Cooper Cronk and Johnathan Thurston, while Luke Lewis is capable of playing anywhere. He played wing when Billy Slater broke his collarbone at Wembley in 2011. Andrew Fifta is in line to make his Australia debut off the bench.
Sheens is happy with the balance of his squad for the curtain-raiser in Cardiff.
“You have to cover every base. We didn’t anticipate losing Billy for the tournament two years ago, so we have to cover those options, and I think we have hopefully every scenario covered in this game,” he said.
Australia are firm favourites on many rugby league tips websites to begin their tournament with a win. The only thing standing in their way appears to be a lack of game time.
Australia team: Billy Slater, Brett Morris, Brent Tate, Greg Inglis, Darius Boyd, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matthew Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), James Tamou, Greg Bird, Sam Thaiday, Paul Gallen.
Interchange: (from) Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Luke Lewis, Corey Parker, Jarryd Hayne, Nate Myles.