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Big names want to keep playing at RLWC

Australia's big guns won't be volunteering themselves for a rest in coming pool games as they seek some much-needed rhythm at the Rugby League World Cup.
Big names want to keep playing at RLWC
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

CARDIFF, Oct 27 AAP - Australia's big guns won't be volunteering themselves for a rest in coming pool games as they seek some much-needed rhythm at the Rugby League World Cup.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens fielded his strongest side in Saturday's opening 28-20 win over England in Cardiff but plans to rotate his 24-man squad for matches against Fiji and Ireland.

Sheens could make up to seven changes for next Saturday's match against Fiji in St Helens, with debutants Boyd Cordner and Josh Papalii set to come in along with Daly Cherry-Evans, Michael Jennings and Jarryd Hayne.

Australia's first-choice players are understanding of the rotation plans and willing to put the team first, but they are eager for game time, with superstar fullback Billy Slater putting up his hand to play next week.

The tournament favourites were slow out of the blocks against England, trailing 10-0 in the first half, and Slater cited a lack of recent game time for the sluggish start.

"Obviously we've got a very talented squad and anyone can fill in and do a great job. That's the benefit of playing for Australia," Slater said.

"Myself individually, I feel that another couple of games under my belt would be beneficial for me.

"So I've put my hand up to play next week and I'd imagine I'd do that the week after and the week after that.

"But Tim's got the decisions to make and obviously the ultimate goal is the last week in the tournament.

"We want to be playing our best football then and if to have a week off is the best thing for the side, then that's the best thing for me."

It's unlikely any of the squad will play in all six matches during the tournament, and star playmaker Johnathan Thurston echoed Slater's sentiments that they will be guided by the coach.

"But I'm fit to play and I'll be putting my hand up to play," Thurston said.

Slater was named Australia's players' player against England, but felt he needed to correct some deficiencies in his game.

The two-time international player of the year was among a host of players guilty of early sloppy errors, but redeemed himself with a superb 60-metre try on the stroke of halftime.

Slater famously threw a shocker of a pass that helped New Zealand to an upset win in the 2008 final, but again played down talk of personal redemption at this tournament.

"What's happened in the past, whether it was last week, two months ago or 10 years ago, it doesn't really come into what I'm going to do in the future," he said.

"I'm always about trying to improve myself and that's what I've always tried to do."

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