Cameron Smith backs timing of Anzac test

STEVE JANCETIC
Last updated 17:56 18/04/2013
Cameron Smith
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CAMERON SMITH: The Melbourne Storm captain is confident his side can turn around their recent poor form.

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The players want it, as do the coaches, yet somehow the mid-year Test continues to be dogged by speculation over its future on the rugby league calendar.

Despite having expressed concerns in the past over player burnout for the game's elite, Australian captain Cameron Smith on Thursday threw his full support behind the trans-Tasman Test - including its scheduling just six weeks into the NRL season.

ARL Commission officials confirmed the fixture was locked in as part of the new broadcast agreement which began this year - yet Smith was still quizzed as to the game's relevance for players.

"I think it's important," Smith said.

"It has its critics with the timing, six rounds into the competition and before Origin, but I believe given Australia's playing against New Zealand there's no better time to play it than around Anzac Day.

"Speaking on behalf of the team at the moment, they all enjoy playing it as well.

"Representing your country, it's not a burden - it's always a privilege.

"I'd put my hand up every day of the week to play for Australia."

But the biggest detraction from the annual clash has not been the commitment of the players, but rather the competitiveness of the fixture.

Since it became a regular event in 1998, the Kiwis have only managed one win - that being in the concept's first year.

While the margin between the two sides has been narrowing over the years, there is little doubt that the best thing for the future of the match would be a New Zealand victory at Canberra Stadium on Friday night.

With negotiations still ongoing over the possibility and practicality of staging the 2015 edition in Gallipoli to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing there, Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens was upbeat about the future of the fixture.

"I know it's slightly out of sync with State of Origin but that's only from our point of view, not the Kiwis' point of view," Sheens said.

"I think it's a game that's worthwhile playing."

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