New Zealand Kiwis v Australian Kangaroos
Saturday, 13 October, 5:45pm
Mt Smart Stadium, Auckland
New Zealand and Australia will meet for the first and only time in 2018 in Saturday night’s Test match at Mt Smart Stadium in Auckland. There are plenty of fresh faces for both sides, with Australia losing a wealth of experience since last year’s World Cup triumph. Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk have both retired from representative footy, while Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston have retired from rugby league altogether.
Coach Mal Meninga will blood a number of new combinations on Saturday night and looks to have rewarded players who performed well in this year’s State of Origin series. There will be green and gold debuts for the likes of Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Damien Cook, with all three players also shining for their clubs during the season.
Former South Sydney coach Michael Maguire is at the helm for the Kiwis, with his sole match in charge being a 36-18 loss to England in June’s Denver Test match. Maguire has named Penrith Panthers full back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as captain, with experienced players Adam Blair and Jesse Bromwich sure to provide plenty of leadership as well. New Zealand’s halves combination is tried and tested, with Shaun Johnson once again partnering Kodi Nikorima in the playmaking positions.
Stats That Matter
- This is the first Test match Australia will play since their 6-0 Rugby League World Cup triumph against England in December 2017.
- Australia has won the past five meetings between the two teams, dating back to 2016.
- The two teams have not clashed at Mt Smart Stadium since a 2006 Tri- Nations match where Australia was victorious 30-18.
- The over/under for this match is set at 38.5 points. The under is 4-2 since 2016.
- Australia has won by a margin of 13+ in five of the past six Test’s against New Zealand. Australia to win by 13+ is priced at $2.35.
It is a changing of the guard for the Australian side, with the likes of Smith, Thurston, Cronk and Slater now retired from representative footy. The Wolf knows they’ve done plenty for the game and their loss will be hard to fill, but Mal Meninga has done a wonderful job in preparing this team for life after his superstar players. The side is brimming with quality, in-form players, such as Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Keary. The forward pack is menacing and I particularly like the grunt that Tyson Frizell and Jake Trbojevic will provide off the bench. The Kiwis have had a wretched run in international footy for some time now and will need something special to pull off an upset.
How It Shapes Up
Australia by 16.
Best: Australia -8.5 ($1.90)
Value: Australia 13+ ($2.35)
First Tryscorer: Latrell Mitchell ($11)