ROOKIE Kangaroo Matt Gillett will be spared the traditional brutal opening period against New Zealand at Allianz Stadium tonight, with coach Tim Sheens tipped to use him as a game-breaking weapon off the bench.
Sydney Roosters back-rower Boyd Cordner will face the early heat of battle in the torrid opening 20 minutes before Gillett is injected into the clash to take full advantage of his footwork and strength.
Cordner, a member of last year's World Cup-winning team, said he thought his form for the Roosters had improved after a disappointing start to the season, and was excited about having the chance to pull on the green-and-gold jersey again.
"We haven't started off the season well, and I wasn't really impressed with my own form but, like I said, in the last few weeks it's been a lot better," he said.
"It's definitely overwhelming to come into a side like this. They're all superstars. Rugby league's a rollercoaster so I'm very grateful to be given this opportunity and I want to grab it with both hands."
A win tonight will see Australia equal the world record of the mighty Invincibles side that won 16 straight Tests between 1979-83.
And bookmakers reported yesterday that plenty of punters wanted to back the Kangaroos to smash the inexperienced Kiwis, who are missing big guns Sonny Bill Williams and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and fielding six new faces, by more than 50 points at odds of $11.
"Fifty points is not out of the question," TattsBet's Daffy told APN, adding the Kiwis had attracted less than $500 at the 23.5 points start being offered.
"That's a very damning statistic when you consider the first bet we took last Monday was $26,000 on Australia giving up 20.5 points to New Zealand."