Referee choice a boost for the Kangaroos

AUSTRALIA has won a minor skirmish with England over the appointment of Sunday's match referee, but it will be on the scoreboard at AAMI Park where they will need to win the battle to continue their Four Nations' title defence.

The Kangaroos have not been as vulnerable in more than four decades as they are after dropping their opening game 30-12 to New Zealand in Brisbane last weekend, and coach Tim Sheens hasn't been able to make many changes to his line-up for the do-or-die clash.

England's protest at the appointment of Australian whistle-blower Gerard Sutton for the crucial clash was dismissed after four hours of debate, ending in a show of hands from the four competing countries.

Sutton got the nod and England lost the argument.

Australia are a wounded animal. They are coming off the back of a loss that will inspire them even more to do their best to beat us.

It would have preferred if New Zealand referee Henry Perenara had the whistle on Sunday, but as neutral referees are not part of the rules, Sutton was considered the number one choice.

Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens has more to worry about than who will call the shots, with an injury cloud still hanging over five-eighth Daly Cherry-Evans.

He is due to run with the team in Melbourne today and will need to dispel any lingering concerns about a hip muscle tear that forced him off the field during Australia's loss to New Zealand last weekend.

England, which twice came from behind to beat a gritty Samoa 32-26, has stuck with the same 17 players to do the job against the Kangaroos.

The home team will again be outsized in the forwards despite Sheens promoting Corey Parker to lock and adding Rooster Boyd Cordner to the bench.

While he hasn't been named, speculation suggests England captain and back-rower Sean O'Loughlin could force his way into the side after suffering a quad strain in Wigan's Super League grand final loss to St Helens.

Australian captain Cameron Smith was bitterly disappointed with his team's embarrassing performance against the Kiwis, and vowed his team would not be the first Kangaroos side to miss the final of an international tournament in 60 years.

England fullback Sam Tomkins, who spent last season playing for the Warriors, said it was a rare opportunity for he and his team-mates to beat a clearly under-strength Kangaroos line-up.

"Australia are a wounded animal. They are coming off the back of a loss that will inspire them even more to do their best to beat us," Tomkins said.

"We'll be prepared and it is exciting - it is a chance for a lot of lads to beat Australia on their first tour. We want to knock them out (of the tournament)."


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