Kiwis test key to Sheens future with Kangaroos

IAN MCCULLOUGH
Last updated 20:40 02/10/2012
Tim Sheens
Getty Images
UNDER PRESSURE: A win over the Kiwis takes on extra importance for Kangaroos' coach Tim Sheens after he lost his job as coach of the Wests Tigers.

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Tim Sheens has remained tight-lipped about his future plans after being moved aside by the Wests Tigers, but admits he needs to beat New Zealand next Saturday in Townsville if he wants to keep his job as Kangaroos for another year.

Sheens is yet to agree a new contract with the ARLC just one year out from the Rugby League World Cup in the UK, and is desperate to get the opportunity to win back the biggest prize in the international game for Australia.

The four-time premiership-winning coach was last week usurped as Tigers mentor, with the joint-venture's board offering him an advisory role, and now searching for a replacement.

Sheens refused to comment on his club situation at the announcement of the Test side to take on the world champions on Tuesday, preferring to focus on the Kangaroos.

He admitted the nature of a one-off Test is difficult for players who are desperate for a break after a long season.

But the 61-year-old said it was important to end a 12-month cycle that began with his side winning the Four Nations in England, on a high, with his contract up for discussion at the end of the year.

"It's up to the commission to decide, and also up to our performances, so we don't want to lose to the Kiwis," Sheens said.

"Every year is a year-by-year appointment, I don't expect anything and I never do.

"I have to work hard to keep the job and this game is very important as is our planning for the World Cup."

ARLC chairman John Grant said a decision will be made on Sheens' future very soon, allowing him or a possible successor to have a 12-month build-up for the World Cup.

"We've got a World Cup next year and we want to give the coach all the run in possible for that," Grant said.

"We'll consider it in the off-season. We renew it every year and like with the make-up of the team we will reward performance.

"If the team and the coach perform then it will be hard not to recognise that."

Sheens is without Sam Thaiday, Kurt Gidley, Luke Lewis, Anthony Watmough, Ben Hannant, Matt Gillett, Glenn Stewart, Brett Stewart and Justin Hodges, who are all undergoing or recovering from end of season surgery.

The coach named an 18-man squad containing no debutants, with Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah edging out Canterbury's Josh Reynolds for the utility role on the bench.

However, Reynolds is on stand-by in case of injury ahead of the team's departure to Townsville on Saturday.

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Josh Morris was the only player from the losing grand finalists the Bulldogs to make the side and will partner brother Brett in the three-quarter line.

Cameron Smith was named as captain with his Melbourne premiership-winning teammate Billy Slater cleared of a knee injury that had threatened his inclusion in the side.

There's also a recall for Storm back-rower Ryan Hoffman who will play his first international since 2009.

Cooper Cronk is the halfback, giving the champion Storm four players in the side.

Injuries have ensured this is the first time in 25 years the Brisbane Broncos haven't had a player in the Australian team.

- AAP

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