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Aussies braced for tough forwards battle

NZN 11/11/2016 Ian McCullough

Despite not having tasted defeat to an English or Great Britain side for over a decade, Kangaroos prop Matt Scott admits the team are expecting the toughest match of their Four Nations campaign on Sunday (0100 Monday AEDT).

With two Queensland greats in Mal Meninga and Wayne Bennett in opposite coaching boxes, this game has been eagerly anticipated ever since Meninga's controversial comments about his former coach in a newspaper column earlier this month.

Bennett's been under fire from the English media following their team's defeat to New Zealand two weeks ago followed by two taciturn post-match TV interviews conducted by the veteran coach.

Meninga's side have had no such issues with the coach's relaxed approach and two relatively comfortable wins over Scotland and New Zealand leading to a happy camp.

Scott, a veteran of three UK tours, believes Meninga's experience gained from coaching 10 State of Origin series has been crucial in producing an environment geared around success.

"He's a relaxed guy and was a relaxed player and with the Queensland side it was always about having fun," Scott said.

"Blokes getting on, but most importantly getting the job done, is crucial and that is what he did with the Maroons from 2006 and there are a lot similarities here."

It's in stark contrast to the approach of Tim Sheens, who stood down after seven years in charge having failed to win the 2015 Four Nations series.

"Sheensy was a little bit more intense in what we did," Scott said.

"It was a lot more video and structure whereas Mal has been a lot more focused on the feeling around the group, in the jersey and the feeling of what it means to play for Australia."

Scott will be at the coalface in the starting front row at the Olympic Stadium against Sam Burgess, James Graham and Co and he admits being wary of the threat of an England side who have to win the game to avoiding exiting the tournament.

"It's going to be physical and it going to be a real test for both packs," he said.

"I think they'll be a lot better than they were against Scotland but it's definitely a match both sides will have been looking forward to."

Meninga has made two changes to his starting line-up with Cooper Cronk recalled after sitting out the win over the Kiwis along with Josh Dugan who's preferred to Justin O"Neill.

Cronk replaces Michael Morgan, and Shannon Boyd is replaced by Tyson Frizzel.

However, Boyd is on stand-by to replace Sam Thaiday, should the veteran Queensland forward fail to recover from a knee injury.

Team: Darius Boyd, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, Aaron Woods, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Trent Merrin. Interchange: David Klemmer, Tyson Frizell, Michael Morgan, Sam Thaiday, Michael Morgan, Shannon Boyd, Justin O'Neill. (two to be omitted).

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