After losing the 2014 Four Nations final to New Zealand, revenge will be the main focus for Australia in Friday’s annual Trans-Tasman ANZAC Test Match, as they look to prove once again that they are the superior of the two rugby league sides.

Despite winning their past two encounters against the Kangaroos, history doesn’t necessarily bode well for the Kiwis, who haven’t won an ANZAC Test since 1998, and have never won the fixture on Australian soil. Tim Sheens’ side also hasn’t lost three matches in a row under his reign, so there’s no doubting their desperation to bounce back with a winning performance when they meet this Friday night.

The late withdrawal of Storm fullback Billy Slater was hardly part of the plan heading into the match, but there’s no doubt that there’s enough talent in the ranks to cover his absence, with Greg Inglis moving to fullback and Michael Jennings coming in at centre.

For the Kiwis, they are expected to be as program after Jason Nightingale was called in earlier this week to replace the suspended Dallin Watene-Zeleniak on the wing.

Plenty of focus for the match will be on New Zealand halfback, Shaun Johnson, who has experienced mix form to start season 2015.

There’s no doubting the ability of the 24-year-old — one needs only to look to his form at the Four Nations, which culminated in him winning the 2014 Golden Boot Award — and if he starts to fire on Friday night, it certainly won’t be an easy task for the Australian side to overcome.

The case could not be more different for Australian halfback, Jonathan Thurston, who has quickly recaptured the form that saw him win the 2014 Dally M Player of the Year (along with then Eels fullback Jarryd Hayne). Thurston currently has the Cowboys on a five-game winning streak, and he sits second in the league with nine try-assists, so if his form continues on Friday, there’s no doubting he’ll leave a sizable mark on the game.

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Match Details

Date — Friday, May 1, 2015

Time — 7:45pm AEST

Venue — Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane

 

TV and Live Stream Information

TV — Live via Channel 9 (check local guides)

Live Stream — Live via NRL’s Digital Pass (subscription required)

 

Match Officials

Referee — Gerard Sutton

Touch Judges — Anthony Elliott and Nick Beashel

Video Referees — Bernard Sutton and Henry Perenara

 

Last Time They Met — New Zealand 22 def. Australia 18 (Nov. 15, 2014)

After blowing the Kangaroos away earlier in the Four Nations, the Kiwis faced a much tougher task in the Final, with a back-and-forth match taking place. In the end, a wonderful individual try for Johnson gave New Zealand all the momentum in the final 20 minutes, which they would ride until the end, despite a late try to Ben Hunt and comeback by the Kangaroos.

 

Updated Team Lists

Australia

 

New Zealand

Greg Inglis

Fullback

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck

Alex Johnston

Winger

Jason Nightingale

Michael Jennings

Centre

Shaun Kenny-Dowall

Will Chambers

Centre

Peta Hiku

Josh Dugan

Winger

Manu Vatuvei

Jonathan Thurston

Five-Eighth

Kieran Foran

Cooper Cronk

Halfback

Shaun Johnson

Matt Scott

Front Row

Jesse Bromwich

Cameron Smith (capt.)

Hooker

Isaac Luke

Aaron Woods

Front Row

Ben Matulino

Greg Bird

Second Row

Tohu Harris

Sam Thaiday

Second Row

Kevin Proctor

Corey Parker

Lock

Simon Mannering

Luke Lewis

Interchange

Thomas Leuluai

Trent Merrin

Interchange

Martin Taupau

Nate Myles

Interchange

Sam Moa

James Tamou

Interchange

Greg Eastwood

Daly Cherry-Evans

Interchange

Lewis Brown

Josh Papalii

Interchange

 

Tim Sheens

Coach

Stephen Kearney

 

Wests Tigers in Action

Aaron Woods — Averaging 215 metres per game in the opening eight rounds of the year, Woods will again look to prove his class on the international stage this Friday night. After only making his international debut for the Kangaroos last year, the local junior has quickly become a focal part of the Kangaroos’ pack, and will look to partner with Cowboys regular Matt Scott to help lay the platform against an intimidating Kiwis outfit.

Martin Taupau — Following a breakout performance in the 2014 Four Nations Final where he turned the game for the Kiwis, Wests Tigers enforcer Martin Taupau again gets to show what he can do on the biggest stage of all. Having moved from the interchange bench to the starting side at a Club level, it’ll be interesting to see how Kiwis Coach Stephen Kearney opts to use Taupau on the night, whether it’s in the role that worked so well for him in 2014 or potentially moving him to lock forward at times.