Under-fire Kangaroos look to teen for spark

A SLICE of history beckons exciting teenage winger Sione Mata'utia on Sunday as Australian attempts to avoid an embarrassing Four Nations elimination against a hungry England side at AAMI Park in Melbourne.

At 18 years and 130 days, Sydney-born Mata'utia of Samoan heritage, will be the youngest player in history to wear the green and gold, replacing Daniel Tupou on the wing.

He will take the record off another player with island parentage, Israel Folau, who was 18 years and 194 days when he scored two tries on debut against New Zealand in 2007, when Australian romped to a 58-0 Test victory.

Charles "Chook" Fraser was 18 years and 301 days when he was the youngest Kangaroo playing against the touring Great Britain side in Newcastle in 1911.

The only other 18-year-old to play for Australia was Kerry Boustead (18 years and 361 days) when he debuted at the SCG against the Kiwis in 1978.

Coach Tim Sheens will be hoping Mata'utia continues the trend of 18-year-olds on debut, with Folau, Fraser and Boustead all enjoying wins.

The pressure is on Sheens as he will become coach of the first Australian side to team to miss the final of an international tournament since the inaugural World Cup in Paris in 1954 when Great Britain trumped France 16-12 if it does lose to England.

Still reeling from the shock 30-12 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane last weekend, Sheens has added Mata'utia to his 20-man game two squad which is under enormous pressure not to become the first Australian side to lose back-to-back home Test in 44 years.

England still has memories of beating Australia in Australia in the Tri Nations clash in 2006 and realise it might not get a better chance to repay the Aussies for a long list of Ashes losses.

Sheens has stuck with the front row of Aaron Woods and Sam Thaiday which was outmuscled by the Kiwis and has named injury concern Daly Cherry-Evans (hip) at five-eighth but included Ben Hunt in his squad as insurance.

Cherry-Evans was not in camp in Melbourne, flying back to Sydney with his wife going into labour.

He is expected to rejoin the Kangaroos today and run on Thursday.

Greg Bird has been moved into the second row with Ryan Hoffman dropping to the bench and Corey Parker will start at lock.

Rooster Boyd Cordner has been added to the interchange bench.

Bird was confident Australia could beat England and avoid being dumped from the tournament.

"At the end of the day those are the cold hard facts (eliminated if they lose) but I've got confidence in our team that we can arm wrestle the out of the game," he said.

Topics:  editors picks kangaroos rugby league

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