Best 17 confirmed for Kangaroos
After putting together a comprehensive performance to down England 36-18 on Monday morning (AEDT), Australia believe they have found the right mix to take on the Kiwis in this weekend's Four Nations final.
Coach Mal Meninga rotated his team through the opening part of the tour, with all 24 members of his squad taking the field across Australia's first two matches, but said that aside from a probable forced change the Kangaroos would take the same 17 into the decider at Anfield, Liverpool.
"Yeah definitely [that is the team for the final], internally we have made no secret of that as well," Meninga said.
"Aside from Sam [Thaiday] everyone is fit and healthy and got through the game.
"Sam had to go to hospital (after leaving the field following a heavy collision with James Graham early in the second half), so we are not quite sure where he is at.
"But we believe he has a fractured eye socket, which unfortunately will probably put him out for the game next week.
"From combinations and cohesions… that [confirmed] spine certainly helps us when we look at our execution and taking advantage of that field positioning.
"We said a few things at half-time and fixed a few things up with our attack and from there I thought our second-half effort was outstanding."
The England match, played in front of 35,569 fans at the Olympic Stadium in London, was the first time Australia had fielded their top 17 at the Four Nations, and the first time since the Perth Test against the Kiwis on October 15 that Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston had played together.
After putting in a man-of-the-match performance to help his side to six line breaks, six tries and an 86 per cent completion rate, Cronk said the match was an ideal lead-in to facing New Zealand for the third time in just over a month.
"That was probably good for our cohesion going into the final," Cronk said.
"I think we have progressed as the competition has gone on, we played against New Zealand before we came over here and we played a pretty strong team there, and then everyone had a run in the first two games.
"There will probably be some changes through injury but I am super confident as a senior player that you could bring in anyone.
"Look at Matt Moylan, you could pick him in any position and he would do a job for you.
"I think it's a strength of this squad, not to disrespect any of the squads we have had previously, that we go deep.
"We go deep through a 24-man roster, we have lost Josh Mansour and Sam is questionable for next week, but I think Mal has stated that he picked what he thought was his best team tonight."
Australia will head into the tournament final on a five-game winning streak, and averaging 34.6 points scored and just 12.6 conceded in three Four Nations matches.
This article first appeared on NRL.COM