Mal gives Mor­gan the nod

Kan­ga­roos pick best side for Samoa

The Observer - - SPORT | DIGEST - With Michael Carayan­nis in Dar­win MORE ON­LINE Mel­bourne to host World Cl­lub Chal­lenge

RUGBY LEAGUE: Michael Mor­gan has won the race for the five-eighth spot af­ter be­ing named in a full-strength Kan­ga­roos side to play Samoa on Fri­day night.

Aus­tralian coach Mal Meninga has picked what he be­lieves is his strong­est side for the Kan­ga­roos’ World Cup quar­ter-fi­nals match.

It features the 16 play­ers who fea­tured in the open­ing match against Eng­land, with only the in­jured Jake Tr­bo­je­vic miss­ing out.

Josh McGuire will start at lock and Rea­gan Camp­bel­lGil­lard has been named on the in­ter­change bench.

Mor­gan has beaten James Maloney and Cameron Mun­ster to part­ner Cooper Cronk in the halves for the match in Dar­win.

Wade Gra­ham re­mains the bench util­ity de­spite a chal­lenge from Mun­ster.

“This is a quar­ter-fi­nal and we have named what we be­lieve is our strong­est pos­si­ble team for the oc­ca­sion,” Meninga said.

“We un­der­stand that Samoa will be des­per­ate to play well, so we are mak­ing sure we do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble with our prepa­ra­tion to be suc­cess­ful.”

For Samoa, Ben Roberts has been re­called and will start at half­back ahead of Fa’amanu Brown who has been named on the bench.

Frank Pritchard will start in the back row af­ter be­ing rested against Scot­land. Lee­son Ah Mau has been pro­moted into the start­ing side at lock with Bunty Afoa drop­ping to the bench.

New Zealand’s coach David Kid­well has re­acted to last week’s shock loss to Tonga by de­mot­ing Bris­bane star Kodi Niko­rima to the bench for this week’s match against Fiji.

Niko­rima was tar­geted by the gar­gan­tuan Ton­gans and he has been re­placed by North Queens­land five-eighth Te Maire Martin.

Thomas Leu­luai has been dropped from the side.

Wayne Ben­nett has made a heap of changes to the Eng­land side that dis­posed of France dur­ing the last pool match on the week­end.

Gareth Wid­dop has been named to start from the back. Sam Burgess will make his return from a knee in­jury, with Ben Cur­rie mak­ing way for him. El­liot White­head also joins the back row.

Josh Hodgson takes his place at hooker with his week three re­place­ment, James Roby, drop­ping to the bench.

Ryan Hall and Kal­lum Watkins have been re­called to the back­line.

Lach­lan Lam misses out on a spot in Pa­pua New Guinea’s 17. He’s re­placed by reg­u­lar five-eighth Ase Boas.

PHOTO: GETTY

MAL’S PICK: Michael Mor­gan is Aus­tralia’s five-eighth for the sud­den-death clash with Samoa on Fri­day.

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