Wed, Oct 10, 9:00am by Staff Writer
A new-look Australian side will take the park against New Zealand on the weekend looking to continue its recent dominance against the Kiwis.
The Kangaroos have won five straight matches against New Zealand dating back to 2016 and holds a 15-4 win-loss record since 2010.
Australia is priced as a $1.38 favourite to win this weekend’s lone New Zealand-Australia Test match, with the Kiwis a $3.05 outsider.
There are fresh faces for both teams, as a new era of international rugby league begins for the Kangaroos.
The retirements of Billy Slater and Johnathan Thurston as well as Cooper Cronk and Cameron Smith stepping down from representative duty has left a number of key positions up for grabs in the lineup.
First choice five-eighth Cameron Munster has withdrawn from the game for personal reasons, with Clive Churchill Medal winner Luke Keary to wear the number six jersey.
Premiership winners James Tedesco and Boyd Cordner feature in a side that is brimming with talent.
Standout State of Origin players have been rewarded with a green and gold jersey, with try scorers Latrell Mitchell, Valentine Holmes, Dane Gagai and Tom Trbojevic in the backline.
Keary will partner Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans in the halves, with Damien Cook the starting hooker.
The forward pack boasts plenty of representative experience and the bench packs a punch, with utility Ben Hunt and livewires Jake Trbojevic and Tyson Frizell.
The Kiwis appointed a new coach mid-year with South Sydney premiership coach Michael Maguire taking the helm.
He has appointed Penrith full back Dallin Watene-Zelezniak as the Kiwi’s captain, ushering in a new era of leadership in New Zealand rugby league.
DWZ will have plenty of veteran experience around him, with the likes of former captain Adam Blair, Kevin Proctor and Jesse Bromwich in the side.
New Zealand possesses a lethal backline, with wingers Ken Maumalo and Jordan Rapana capable of scoring tries from anywhere on the park.
The centre combination of Esan Marsters and Joseph Manu is solid for the hosts, with their halves remaining their biggest question mark.
Shaun Johnson will partner Kodi Nikorima, with neither have stellar games in the finals and late in the NRL season.
Melbourne Storm reserve hooker Brandon Smith will offer plenty in a starting role, with Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Isaac Liu in the forwards, fresh from premiership glory.
Macguire has opted for a bench full of forwards, with Manly’s Martin Taupau sure to have plenty of impact from the pine.
The markets are still pointing to a comfortable win for the Kangaroos, despite them fielding a number of new combinations and players.
They are eight-point favourites on the handicap at $1.91 and Australia to win 13+ is the shortest priced margin option at $2.40.
New Zealand to win by 1-12 points is priced at $4.20, while a big Kiwi win by 13+ is at $10.
There are plenty of exotic markets available in this match, with the ‘Will One Team Win Both Halves?’ market’s ‘Yes’ option paying $2.
The total match points is at over/under 38.5 points, with only two of the past six matches between the teams going over this mark.
Rain is forecast in Auckland on Saturday, with conditions expected to be fine for kick off. Mt Smart Stadium is typical wet under foot at the best of times, so points should be at a premium for this night game.
This is the first time New Zealand will play on home soil since a disappointing World Cup campaign in 2017, when they lost to Fiji in Wellington.
Since then they have beaten England in the much-maligned Denver Test mid-season. Following this match, they will embark on a three-Test tour of England, beginning on October 27 with a match in Hull.
Suggested Bet: Australia to cover the handicap (-8.0): $1.91
New Zealand v Australia Odds
New Zealand $3.05 Australia $1.38
Handicap: Australia -8 ($1.91)
Margin: Australia 1-12 $3; 13+ $2.40
New Zealand 1-12 $4.20; 13+ $10
Total match points over/under 38.5 ($1.90)
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