Kangaroos talk up Kiwis ahead of Anzac test
STEVE JANCETIC AND JAMES MACSMITH
Australia claim New Zealand will have plenty of firepower in next week's Anzac test even without the injured Benji Marshall - and not just because Sonny Bill Williams will be making his return to the Kiwi fold.
While there aren't expected to be too many surprises in a Kangaroos side which has been a very settled unit under coach Tim Sheens, the Kiwis will welcome back Williams alongside a halves pairing skipper Cameron Smith fears could cause plenty of problems.
Marshall's turf toe injury will leave Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson to link up in the six and seven for the Kiwis, with Williams a chance of being pushed out to the centres thanks to New Zealand's depth of talent in the back row.
''The Kiwis aren't a one man team, as good as Benji is,'' Smith said.
''He is a fantastic player. He has won a lot of games for them but they have had a good side for a couple of years now... they are the world champions.
''They have got Kieran Foran and Shaun Johnson there who are quality players so they have enough talent going around to make a quality side.''
Williams only adds to the talent as he prepares for his first test since 2008, when he walked out on Canterbury and the code.
''Things have been going well, building each week, but test footy's another dimension and the Kiwis haven't been so successful in recent years,'' Williams said following his dominant display for the Sydney Roosters last night.
''But they've got a lot of depth there and they've been building for something special so it'll be an honour if I get picked.''
The Australia side will be far more straight forward, with Brett Morris the only exception to what will likely be an all-Queensland backline.
In the forwards the likes of Anthony Watmough and Sam Thaiday will come into contention after missing last season's end of year test, with prop Tony Williams at long odds to hold onto his spot. A recall for Luke Lewis could also endanger Robbie Farah's utility role on the bench.
The City and Country side to also be named on Sunday could feature a few more surprises, with the youngster Ryan James and Boyd Cordner both expected to be named in the Country side.
James Maloney's superb performance on Saturday night all-but sealed him a starting at five-eighth for Country, particularly with NSW No 6 Todd carney unavailable due to a foot injury.
Maloney's elevation could see Jarrod Mullen shift over to halfback, with NSW Origin halfback contenders Mitchell Pearce and Adam Reynolds to both be named in the City side.
Who is your pick for international league player of the year?Related story: (See story)