The Kangaroos and Kiwis will meet in the last-ever Anzac Test on Friday night in Canberra. Here are the big questions hovering over Australia ahead of the trans-Tasman clash.
What’s the true cost of loyalty?
Mal Meninga has built his coaching philosophy around the concept of loyalty, and that is reflected in this Kangaroos team, which certainly isn’t made up of the best Australian players running around right now.
So far in 2017 lock Trent Merrin has been a shadow of the damaging middle unit who terrorised teams last year with his power and offload, while Blake Ferguson is averaging an error and two missed tackles per game for the Roosters and might struggle to make the list of the top 10 wingers in the game currently.
Meninga has also gone with the likes of David Klemmer, Sam Thaiday and Michael Morgan in his squad when there are arguably better options out there form-wise.
That’s not to say all of those players aren’t quality, they just aren’t the best available at this moment and time.
So will the loyalty over form approach be rewarded? Or will it have a cost and cause his team to struggle in key areas of the game?
— Wide World of Sports (@wwos) May 2, 2017
Can Australia remove any doubt they are No.1?
They have won six straight games and downed their nearest rival, New Zealand, four times in the last two years.
But if you really wanted to you could possibly, at a push, say Australia can’t really claim to be the best team in the world again until they have beaten the Kiwis at full strength.
After sitting behind New Zealand in the world rankings in 2015 and 2016, the green-and-golds have demolished the Kiwis in recent times. But on each of those occasions the New Zealand have been without two of their best players in Kieran Foran and Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.
Many suggested the same about New Zealand when the Kiwis beat an injury-depleted Australian side twice as part of the 2014 Four Nations.
But a win on Friday night would end any debate or discussion around it. The Kangaroos would be the undisputed best international team in the world and you won’t be able to suggest otherwise until the end of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.
Fifita to show to value of forgiveness?
Left out of last year’s Four Nations squad when he was probably the best front-rower in the game – due to off-field issues which dogged him through 2017 – Fifita has been welcomed back into camp with open arms.
After Aaron Woods pulled out because of injury, Fifita was brought in as a starter at prop and so far has suggested he feels nothing but relief and joy at being back in green-and-gold jumper.
He is saying all the right things, his club numbers are very impressive and right now everything points to Fifita having a blinder.
Averaging 17 runs and 154 metres for the Cronulla Sharks this year, Fifita is in dynamic form.
Meninga could have been stubborn and dug his heels in on this one, but you get the feeling plucking Fifita out of Tonga’s squad and bringing him back into the Kangaroos fold – however controversial that is from an international rugby league standpoint – may prove a masterstroke.
Andrew Fifita on his new outlook and desire to be a Kangaroo for life https://t.co/8E7UkzkDUK
— The Daily Telegraph (@dailytelegraph) May 2, 2017