Tim Sheens yesterday named the Kangaroos squad tasked with not only beating a very competitive Samoan side, but doing so by a margin that sees the side qualify for the Four Nations final.
Should England beat New Zealand on Saturday afternoon, the Roos will have to beat Samoa by potentially plenty to ensure they qualify.
The national side, who it has to be said are missing an almost a run on side of first string superstars, have been dominated by bigger and stronger packs thus far in the tournament.
Sheens has named Raiders backrower Josh Papalii as Aaron Woods’ partner in the front row for the must win game against the Samoans.
Interestingly, and to most shockingly, Sheens only named two genuine props in his squad. Aaron Woods and a player who has not yet started an NRL fixture in 20 year old David Klemmer.
Pre-tournament I called for the inclusion of Klemmer as I believe he is a big fixture in the future at both state and international level. In saying that, I certainly didn’t think Sheens would name genuine back rowers up front.
Sam Thaiday, and now Josh Papalii have been given the task to partner Aaron Woods up front after Sheens sensationally overlooked Aiden Tolman, Josh McGuire and Brenton Lawrence, just to name a few.
Personally I don’t think Papalii’s form warranted selection, I certainly did not name him in my pre-tournament side, but he has proven himself on the big stage in the past, but not as a front rower.
The difference between front and back row is not a world apart, but when you’re matched up with the likes of James Graham, Jesse Bromwich, George Burgess and co. you want your big men to be able to compete.
Given, the Roos are without Gallen, Tamou, Scott and Fifita, arguably the four props that would have been named if fit. Woods is probably the fifth option.
I can’t believe Sheens did not name more genuine front rowers in his squad, knowing that Woods was the only genuine prop that could be classed as a senior player.
Woods himself is only 23 years of age, and made his Roos debut in the tournament opener, however he at least has Origin experience.
David Klemmer does not even have NRL run on experience. Sam Thaiday was trialled at prop for the Broncos, however his game suffered terribly and he was quickly moved back to the second row.
Every man and their dog are expecting the Roos to roll over Samoa. That being said, the same people thought the same would happen against both the English and the New Zealanders, and that of course did not eventuate.
Samoa have given both games a red-hot go, and with a little luck, they would be undefeated and would have one foot in the final. They have achieved this on the back of a big, aggressive pack of forwards.
I fully expect the Aussies to beat Samoa and go on to face the Kiwis in the final, but I’d definitely feel more confident with more size up front.
Sheens is taking a big risk, and with plenty of young and hungry coaches looking for the opportunity to coach the national side, it could be be a case of that risk being genius, or what sarcastic Tiger fan refer to as ‘Sheenius’.