Internationals Head-to-Heads

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warriors4life_old

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From www.sportinglife.com

LAST LINE OF DEFENCE

Justin Hodges (Australia)

Just when Great Britain thought it was safe to kick to the rear of the opposition, the Kangaroos unearth another full-back of mind-blowing attacking potential.

Australia looked to have suffered a major setback when Anthony Minichiello, a scourge of British defences over the last three years, was ruled out for the season with a back injury.

But in Justin Hodges, the Kangaroos have a player just as capable of bringing a crowd to its feet with his elusive footwork and searing pace.

Still only 24, the Cairns-born Hodges has already enjoyed a colourful career with the best yet to come.

Now in his second spell with the Broncos, it was thought suspicions of bad blood with new Test coach Ricky Stuart - his former mentor at the Roosters - would count against him but Hodges has simply been irresistible in the second half of the season.

He was denied a debut in the Anzac Test through injury, the full-back berth going to club-mate Karmichael Hunt, but another outstanding display in the Grand Final cemented his place in the Tri-Nations squad.

Paul Wellens (Great Britain)

Paul Wellens will be one of the first names on Brian Noble's team sheet and not only because he wears the number one jersey.

The 26-year-old St Helens man has been Mr Reliable over the years and his career hit new heights in 2006 with a series of consistently high-class performances for his club.

Strangely, he burst onto the Saints scene as a hooker and, with Kris Radlinski holding down the Great Britain full-back spot, found himself making his early Test appearances among the three-quarters.

But when Radlinski was struck down by injury in 2004, Wellens seized his opportunity to make an indelible mark in the inaugural Tri-Nations series and has held the full-back position with ease ever since.

Rock solid and fearless in defence, Wellens adds a new dimension to his side's attacking potential with strong and elusive running.

His vision and decision-making qualities are exceptional and he knows the way to the line, having brought up a century of tries for his club earlier this year.

Brent Webb (New Zealand)

Like Hodges, Brent Webb was born in Cairns but he opted to play for the Kiwis after spending the required three years qualifying on the residency rule.

Plucked from the obscurity of the Queensland Cup by former Warriors coach Daniel Anderson, now at St Helens, Webb immediately played his way into the team and held a starting spot.

Small but strong for his size, Webb has become one of the NRL's finest attacking full-backs in recent times and has not looked back since making his Test debut in a 16-16 draw with Australia in the opening match of the 2004 Tri-Nations series.

His first-half brace of tries in last year's 42-26 win over Great Britain at Loftus Road illustrated his attacking potency.

He is fast off the mark and is an excellent broken-play runner with strength to offload, skills he will bring to Super League in 2007 with Leeds.

Webb celebrates his 26th birthday three days before the second match against Great Britain in Wellington.

THE ENFORCERS

Petero Civoniceva (Australia)

The Fiji-born front rower has the opportunity to emerge from the shadow of his Brisbane team-mate Shane Webcke, who stepped down from international rugby at the start of the year and hung up his boots after the Broncos' Grand Final triumph.

The 30-year-old Civoniceva has been a Test regular since making his debut in 2001 and, as his country's most experienced forward, with 23 caps and 16 Origin appearances, he will be a valuable member of the Tri-Nations squad.

A no-nonsense forager with an insatiable appetite for work, the Broncos prop is the man Australia will look to take them forward and lay a platform for their exciting backs to parade their skills.

Stuart Fielden (Great Britain)

Stuart Fielden has had a quiet season by his own high standards but he remains top of the props in England and kept his place in the Super League Deam Team.

He loves nothing better than to play the entire 80 minutes, which is almost unheard of for a front rower these days, and can be relied upon not to take a backward step.

The Wests Tigers forwards were visibly shaken by Fielden's storming display for Bradford in this year's World Club Challenge when he proved virtually unstoppable.

His presence alone is guaranteed to inspire his team-mates, as he demonstrated in helping to transform the fortunes of Wigan this year.

Jason Cayless (New Zealand)

Sidelined through injury in 2005, Jason Cayless made a welcome return for the Anzac Test and provided an irresistible case for inclusion in the Kiwis' Tri-Nations squad with a brilliant first season in England with St Helens.

He has been a consistent performer with Saints and was a deserved tryscorer in their Challenge Cup final win over Huddersfield at Twickenham in August. He was desperately unlucky not to make the Super League Dream Team.

He lined up alongside older brother Nathan, the Parramatta captain, in Brisbane in May when he won his 10th cap and is vying with his sibling for a place alongside skipper Ruben Wiki in the New Zealand front row.

THE EMERGING STARS

Greg Inglis (Australia)

The naturally gifted Melbourne utility back is regarded as one of the rising stars in Australia and could become a fixture in the side for years to come.

The 19-year-old has wonderful, almost freakish skills that have brought comparisons with legendary full-back David Peachey but he can play equally as well at centre and wing.

He famously signed a one-million dollar contract with Melbourne last year and already looks good value for money with 18 tries in 19 appearances for the Storm this year.

Although he was born in New South Wales, Inglis has allegiance to Queensland because he played his first football in Brisbane and made an eye-catching Origin debut this year.

James Roby (Great Britain)

St Helens coach Daniel Anderson, who was in charge of New Zealand for the 2004 series, has tipped his young charge to take the Tri-Nations by storm on the hard grounds Down Under.

A half-back by trade, Anderson has used the 20-year-old as back-up to hooker Keiron Cunningham and he has turned many a game with his devastating running from dummy half.

With only one recognised hooker in the squad, Lions coach Brian Noble is expected to copy Anderson's idea and have Roby on the bench to provide relief to Terry Newton.

Tame Tupou (New Zealand)

The Kiwis have a habit of producing massive wingers and, at 17st 4lb and 6ft 5in, Tame Tupou can even dwarf Lesley Vainikolo.

The Brisbane Bronco made his Test debut in New Zealand's 50-12 defeat by Australia on his home ground in May and, as one of only two specialist wingers in Brian McClennan's 23-strong squad, he is set to retain the number two jersey despite playing in only one of the Broncos' last seven games.

Tupou was unable to force his way into Brisbane's Grand Final team despite scoring 15 tries in just 25 matches to become their leading scorer but has the chance to take out his frustration on British and Australian defences.

The blockbusting winger knows the way to the line but can also be relied upon to help his forwards clear their own line.
 

Skinny_Ravs82

Guest
Mmmm...that's such an exciting piece. Makes me get all excited! I really hope GB lives up to the expectations. They were pretty good last year; but kinda fell off near the end. It would be good if they gave us and the Roos a good push this year
 

commonsense_old

Guest
i heard about another young GB gun coming come. centre called kirk yeaman. ive heard big things from this guy but havent seen him play yet.
 

warriorfaithful*_old

Guest
Mmm. Another GB player to look out for is Paul Deacon. Hes not so much a young player coming through but ive seen him carving up in ESL
 

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warriors4life_old