Kiwis v Kangaroos Preview

A lot has changed in the 18-months since the Kangaroos and Kiwis last battled it out.

Arguably four of the most important players of the past decade for the 'Roos have moved on in Johnathon Thurston, Cameron Smith, Billy Slater and Cooper Cronk, with a host of in-form debutants ready to fill the void.

Valentine Holmes is one of just five players to remain in the squad since the 2017 Anzac Test, the last time these two teams faced one another.

With so many regulars and incumbents now gone, the changing of the guard has set the scene for an enticing battle between some of the younger stars that have ignited the 2018 NRL season.

The Kangaroos team is now dominated by New South Welshman – a very different scenario to that seen over most of the last decade and a half.

Four debutants will run out in the green and gold tonight in Roosters trio Luke Keary, James Tedesco and Latrell Mitchell, and Souths hooker Damien Cook.

For the Kiwis, half of their side from the 2017 Test will line up again to tackle the 'Roos, and it would be more if Roger Tuivasa-Sheck and Issac Luke weren't injured.

Dallin Watene-Zelezniak (on the wing then but moved to fullback as captain this weekend), Jordan Rapana, Shaun Johnson, Jesse and Kenny Bromwich, Kevin Proctor, Adam Blair, Martin Taupau and Kodi Nikorima (who has moved from the bench to halfback) are the familiar names.

Two of the notable absentees from the battle up-front this time around are Andrew Fifita and Jason Taumalolo, with the two big boppers set to line up for Mate Ma'a Tonga when they face the Kangaroos on October 20.

It will be the first Test match between Mate Ma'a Tonga and the Kangaroos.

With RTS and Isaac Luke sidelined, Shaun Johnson has to step up if the Kiwis are to come away with the win tonight. The Kiwis will live or die depending on which version of Johnson shows up in this game.

For the Kangaroos to win they just have to click. With a host of new faces and powerful, dangerous runners in both the forwards and backs, the Kangaroos will create chances – it will be up to the new spine to make sure those count.

The match is scheduled for a 5:45pm (AEDT) kick off at Mt Smart Stadium. The natch will be televised live on Channel 9.