They are the current Four Nations champions and boast some of the most exciting, brash and confident players in the competition.
From the undeniable Shaun Johnson to Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, Kieran Foran to Benji Marshall to Issac Luke and the most powerful backrower in the NRL, Jason Taumalolo, New Zealand aren’t on the brink of something special, they’re already here.
Forget about the aforementioned. What about Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Ben Matulino or Manu Vatuvei?
And by the way, Benji may not even be picked despite being in the best form we may have ever seen him in.
The Kiwis should almost go into the Suncorp Stadium ANZAC Test as favourites.
Australia on the other hand are about to pick their oldest ever team according to media reports.
Up to ten players over the age of 30 are to be selected. More alarmingly however is the fact that the last three Kangaroos teams to have seven or more players over the age of 30 was in 2013 at the World Cup and then twice in 2014.
“It’s a short week’s preparation with just a couple of sessions so we need blokes in there who are accustomed to Test football,” Australian coach Tim Sheens told The Daily Telegraph.
“You actually do more promos than training in the build-up to an Anzac Test.
“With the World Cup just a couple of years away, we eventually have to sort out a succession plan,” he said.
“Otherwise we’ll be like the Australian cricket team and the slump they had when all the old champions retired together like Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Langer and Hayden.
“But now is not the time to be blooding new players.
“That’s something I suspect will start to happen from next year.”
All well and good but the problem is the Kiwis have developed further than Sheens could have ever expected. They’re a settled team, an exciting team and will certainly have the legs to go with the ageing Aussies in Brisbane on May 1.
I personally would continue the blooding.
I’d pick Daniel Tupou and Alex Johnston on the flanks and bring through a couple of younger players in place of the likes of Greg Bird and Glenn Stewart who are apparently inline for call-ups. Boyd Cordner is a future representative leader and must be in the starting team. I’d also include young firebrands Dylan Napa and Josh McGuire on the bench to make their international debuts.
You can argue until you’re green and gold in the face that this is a one-off Test and it’s purely about the win. Only problem with that is, there is no longer such a thing as a one-off Test. Every international match means something now, every match is development.
And while the Kangaroos and Coach Sheens are expected to pick players that surely won’t be at the next World Cup, the young Kiwis are hungry for victory at Suncorp. Because another win here, means another cog in the great plan of Stephen Kearney and his chargers.
My Australian Team:
1 Greg Inglis
2 Daniel Tupou
3 Justin Hodges
4 Michael Jennings
5 Alex Johnston
6 Johnathan Thurston
7 Cooper Cronk
8 Aaron Woods
9 Cameron Smith ©
10 Matt Scott
11 Boyd Cordner
12 Corey Parker
13 Paul Gallen
14 Nate Myles
15 Sam Thaiday
16 Josh McGuire
17 Dylan Napa