Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens admits he is nervous ahead of Friday night’s trans-Tasman Test in Brisbane but has refused to speculate on his future.
A player succession plan has been a hot topic ahead of Australia’s sole Test of 2015 after the third-oldest Kangaroos team was named to avenge their Four Nations final loss to New Zealand.
Veteran centre Justin Hodges’ Test career is over after being overlooked by selectors who have one eye on the 2017 World Cup.
And 33-year-old Roos forward Corey Parker has admitted Friday’s clash may be his last in the green and gold.
However, off contract Sheens may be the one feeling the heat if New Zealand notch their third straight win over Australia for the first time in more than 60 years.
Sheens survived Australia’s shock 2014 Four Nations final loss to the Kiwis by signing a one-year contract in February.
But the jury will be out on Sheens’ future if New Zealand break a 15-game drought and claim their first mid-year Test win over Australia since 1998.
Sheens said he naturally felt nervous before every Test but would not elaborate on whether he wanted to keep the reins up to the 2017 World Cup.
“We will worry about this week,” he said.
“(But) it’s a pressure game.
“Representing Australia and playing a quality side there’s always pressure.
“If I wasn’t nervous I would be pretty disappointed.”
Sheens was more forthright on the Test team’s future.
While he backed Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith’s call that form not age should be the gauge, Sheens said selectors were aware a succession plan for the 2017 World Cup must be in place – particularly for their “spine”.
Captain and hooker Smith, regular fullback Billy Slater and halfback Cooper Cronk are 32 this year – the age five-eighth Johnathan Thurston celebrated turning last week.
“It has been raised the age of our spine compared to, for example, New Zealand’s – it’s obvious,” Sheens said.
“It needs to be addressed before the next World Cup.
“But at the moment we pick the team on form not age.”
Smith did not feel the clock was ticking on their veterans.
“Myself and a lot of the other boys don’t think about age,” he said.
“If you are playing good football and deserve to be picked in a representative team then you should be there.
“No doubt we’ve got a few 30 year old players but they are playing well.
“They say Johnathan Thurston is the best player in the game and he’s 32.”
Thurston will be one of 10 changes to the Australian side that lost the 2014 Four Nations final.
Smith will become the fifth player to lead Australia in 20 or more Tests.
Both teams did not believe the heavy showers forecast for Friday night would influence the outcome.