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Pacific Cup: Australia v New Zealand preview

Australia head coach Mal Meninga is set to utilise the huge pool of talent he has available to him when the Kangaroos take on New Zealand in the Pacific Cup.

Australia opened up the Pacific Championships with a 38-12 win over Samoa in Townsville, but Meninga will not stick with a winning side.

Such is the depth of talent in the Roos ranks that Meninga is able to mix things up and still put out a very strong side against the Kiwis.

New Zealand will provide a very stern test for the Kangaroos, but Meninga has every faith in his world champions ahead of the game.

Let’s take a look at the match-up between these two Rugby League heavyweights.

WhatAustralia v New Zealand
WhereAAMI Park, Melbourne
When19:10 (AEST), Saturday 28th October, 2023
How to watchChannel 9, Kayo, Foxtel
OddsAustralia 1.35, New Zealand 3.25

Duo handed Kangaroos debuts

Tom Flegler and Nicho Hynes will make their first starts for the Kangaroos when they take on the Kiwis in Melbourne on Saturday.

The duo become the latest players to be handed their first starts in the Pacific Championships, as coach Meninga looks to utilise the deep pool of talent available to him.

Dylan Edwards, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Kotoni Staggs and Selwyn Cobbo all made their debuts in the win over Samoa.

Cobbo will be rested for the game against New Zealand and has been named among the reserves, along with Liam Martin, Payne Haas and Tino Fa'asuamaleaui.

Cronulla Sharks ace Hynes will take a place on the interchange, while Flegler - who will line up for the Dolphins in 2024 - will start in the front row.

Jake Trbojevic will play alongside Flegler after being named in the side, while Valentine Holmes returns to the international set-up and will start on the wing.

Holmes can be backed at 1.87 to score at anytime in the game or 8.00 to grab the first try.

Reuben Cotter also moves into the starting side and will take the number 12 jersey at AAMI Park.

Meninga hails strength in depth

Meninga says he is keen to give everyone a run over the opening two games so that they will be ready to cope with any injuries or suspensions, should they occur, later in the championships.

The head coach says all the players that have been handed debuts over the two games "deserve the opportunity to represent their country".

Meninga is well aware of the threat that New Zealand will pose, but has every confidence in his players to get the job done.

The Kangaroos can be backed at 2.60 to win by 1-12 points.

Kiwis also in good form

New Zealand will be in a confident mood after smashing Samoa 50-0 in their opening game last weekend.

Jamayne Isaako carried his form from the NRL into the game with a couple of tries and he can be backed at 2.50 to score at anytime on Saturday.

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