KANGAROOS coach Tim Sheens has defended his selection of two hookers for the Test against New Zealand next Saturday night at Dairy Farmers Stadium.
Australia's incumbent No.9 and captain Cameron Smith is an 80-minute player, but Sheens opted for a back-up considering the game would be played in hot and steamy conditions in Townsville.
Tigers hooker Robbie Farah, who is also an 80-minute player, will come off the bench in his first game since suffering a broken hand against the Bulldogs in round 24. He was passed fit yesterday.
He will also act as a utility if needed, with Bulldogs stars Ben Barba and Josh Reynolds overlooked for that role.
"I like the idea of some extra dummy-running," Sheens said at yesterday's press conference.
"It'll be a hot night; they've got a big side."
With back-rowers Sam Thaiday, Anthony Watmough, Glenn Stewart and Luke Lewis unavailable, Storm premiership star Ryan Hoffman and Manly's Tony Williams were named on the bench as cover for Paul Gallen and Greg Bird.
Hoffman will play his first Test since 2009 after an outstanding season, including a try in Sunday night's grand final victory over Canterbury.
He was cut from the Storm in 2010 in the wake of the club's salary cap scandal, moving to Wigan, before returning this year.
"Ryan's last Test series was in '09 before he went overseas. He's come back a maturer player, three years older," Sheens said. "He played very well this season I thought. The opportunity's arisen with Thaiday and Watmough not being available.
"He's certainly one of the form forwards this year and all through the grand final he played well."
Surprisingly, centre Josh Morris was the only Bulldogs player picked and he will play inside winger and brother Brett, from the Dragons.
"I did that in France. I know it was only against the French, but I think Josh scored three tries," Sheens said of the combination.
While the beaten grand finalists have just one player in the Australian side, the Broncos have none for the first time since the end of the Super League war in 1997, although Ben Te'o has been named 18th man.
Sheens said his recent sacking at the Tigers would not affect his mindset as the Kangaroos' coach.
"No. Today I'm wearing this (Australian) shirt. This is all about Test football," he said.
Kangaroos Squad: Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Greg Inglis, Josh Morris, Brett Morris, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, James Tamou, Greg Bird, Paul Gallen, Nate Myles. Interchange: Robbie Farah, Ryan Hoffman, David Shillington, Tony Williams, Ben Te'o (18th man).
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