Australia coach Tim Sheen says the door is still open for Test hopefuls to break into his record-equalling Kangaroos side.
Australia coach Tim Sheens has assured Test hopefuls the path into the Kangaroos side isn’t closed despite their record-equalling 16th straight victory on Friday.
The 30-18 win at Allianz Stadium over New Zealand was a lot closer than many predicted as a youthful Kiwis side more than matched the World Cup winners.
Sheens’ side won’t play again until the Four Nations opener in Brisbane on October 25 and the veteran coach said the upcoming State of Origin series will give players the chance to stake a claim for a place in his team.
“State of Origin is a great build up to our series later in the year,” Sheens said.
“There is a lot of pressure on Queensland to maintain it and a lot of pressure on NSW to wrestle it back.
“I’ll sit back and enjoy that. But I am sure players will emerge from it like they did last year when Boydy Cordner, (Andrew) Fifita made their debuts and now Matt Gillett’s broken through.
“A lot can happen between now and then and injuries can happen.”
The victory over the Kiwis put Sheens’ side alongside the so-called `Invincibles’ team that remained unbeaten between 1979-83.
New Zealand were the last team to beat the Kangaroos in the 2010 Four Nations final in Brisbane but Sheens refused to buy into claims his side is one of the greatest of all time.
“That’s very subjective, the who is the best team of all time question,” he said.
“It’s great company and these guys play the game to play the game. Those sort of things you look back on at the end of your career.
“It’s not a huge thing on their mind and in fact we were not even aware of it until someone brought it to our attention earlier this week.”
Former Kangaroos and NSW halfback Steve Mortimer, who was in and around the Invincibles sides during their run of victories said he had no doubt the current side was on a par with the side he played in.
“I’ve seen some great Australian sides and I was fortunate enough to be a part of one,” Mortimer told AAP.
“I don’t like comparing teams, but what we have seen from this current side over the last two years, it’s one of the finest I can remember.
“Smith, Cronk, Inglis, Slater, Bird, Gallen, they are all key heads in their NRL clubs and because of that, the team, even when they are behind in games, don’t panic. They are a joy to watch.
“We had blokes like Wally Lewis, Mick Cronin, Gene Miles, Les Boyd, Kerry Boustead. Terrific players … who did that for us.”