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Roos set to unleash Fifita on England

Having done it to devastating effect for club and state, Andrew Fifita looks set to get a chance to wreak havoc off the bench for his country in Australia's rugby league World Cup opener.
Roos set to unleash Fifita on England
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

MANCHESTER, England, Oct 21 AAP - Having done it to devastating effect for club and state, Andrew Fifita looks set to get a chance to wreak havoc off the bench for his country in Australia's rugby league World Cup opener.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens has vowed to stick largely with experience and familiar combinations for Saturday's tournament-opening showdown with England at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

But he has hinted Cronulla wrecking ball Fifita will be rewarded for his stellar season with a first international cap.

The 24-year-old is one of three rookies in the squad and while Sheens indicated fellow debutants Josh Papalii and Boyd Corner would have to wait for their chance, Fifita is firmly in the mix for an interchange spot in the opener.

"He's going to figure in the selection issue for sure," Sheens told AAP.

"I don't know whether the other two young guys will, I don't think so at this stage, but Andrew will.

"He's a big strong forward and has got plenty of go-forward in him.

"Without saying he's in the side, he figures very closely in what we're thinking for the first game."

Fifita's inclusion in the side to face England would cap a remarkable rise, not least because two years ago it was then-Wests Tigers mentor Sheens who deemed him surplus to requirements at the NRL club.

Fifita joined the Sharks and has since developed into one of the most feared forwards in the game.

He made some impressive contributions off the bench for NSW in his maiden State of Origin series, and Queensland and Australia skipper Cameron Smith is welcoming a chance to join forces with the 116kg forward.

"I've never had the opportunity to play alongside him and I know playing against him in State of Origin was a handful," Smith said of Fifita.

"Let's hope he's got that same mindset for us and can do the same job."

Sheens biggest selection headache against England is deciding who will partner Greg Inglis in the centres in the absence of the injured Justin Hodges.

Premiership-winning Sydney Roosters star Michael Jennings and Bulldogs' Josh Morris are leading contenders while Sheens said veteran Brent Tate, a right-sided specialist, was also in the mix.

"Deciding that will be difficult," Sheens said.

"It's very highly-contested which has been very interesting in training."

While the team for the opener will have a familiar look, Sheens challenged his younger and fringe players to apply selection pressure by taking their chances in pool matches against Fiji and Ireland.

"In the next two games you're going to see a lot of those guys," Sheens said.

"Hopefully by the time with get to the quarters and semis, that's when I'll really have a selection headache."

The Kangaroos will travel to Cardiff on Tuesday having spent a week acclimatising to English conditions at their training base in Manchester.

Sheens reported a full bill of health for the England match with Matt Scott (thumb), Nate Myles (ankle) and Luke Lewis (shoulder) shaking off injury concerns to be available for selection.


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