Tim Sheens says his all-conquering Kangaroos are on a hiding to nothing in their trans-Tasman Test in Sydney.
New Zealand are given little hope after coach Stephen Kearney picked six international newcomers, including five-eighth Isaac John, who has been plucked – Olsen Filipaina-like – from reserve grade to oppose reigning world player of the year Johnathan Thurston in Friday night’s match.
The star-studded Australian line-up, which also features the likes of Billy Slater, Greg Inglis, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Paul Gallen, boasts more than double the Test-match experience of the Kiwis.
“Everyone thinks their mother could coach the Australian side – maybe they could,” Sheens said.
“But the pressure is still on the side. If they win, they’re expected to win. They don’t get much credit for that.”
Not quite right: if they win, the world champion Kangaroos will be credited with a record-equalling 16th successive Test victory, matching the golden run of Australia’s “Invincibles” from 1979 to 1983.
“We like to think we’re the ‘Unbeatables’ and we’re going okay,” Sheens said.
“(But) we had to earn that tag last year to be world champions, so it’s not just a matter of turning up.
“You look at the (NRL) comp this year. I don’t think many of us would be doing well in the tipping contests.
“So you can never come out thinking that you’ve got the best side so therefore you’re obviously going to win. Ask the Roosters this year.
“It’s still a matter of respecting your opposition.”
Australia are considered $1.14 favourites to repeat their World Cup final triumph of five months ago over New Zealand in Manchester.
“There’s not many people out there that do give us a chance,” Kiwi winger Jason Nightingale said.
“But that’s not a big deal to us.”