Pamela Frost

Daly Cherry-Evans counting on Manly pal

NEW Kangaroos five-eighth Daly Cherry-Evans expects his Manly halves partner Kieran Foran to try and exploit him defensively when Australia opens its Four Nations title defence against New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday night.

While Cherry-Evans knows Foran's game and thought processes inside out after more than 100 NRL games together, he admits is preparing for a "few little tricks" from his close mate.

"I'm really looking forward to it. I think we are going to come together a fair bit," said the 25-year-old who'll fill in at No.6 for Johnathan Thurston who has been a regular in the halves for Australia in more than 30 Tests.

The respect the pair has for each other is obvious, with Cherry-Evans conceding if he didn't turn up with his A-grade defensive game, Foran would show him up.

"I know first hand how good he is from training and playing alongside him," Cherry-Evans, set to partner fellow Queenslander Cooper Cronk in the halves against Foran and Shaun Johnson, said

"I'll have to stop him as best as I can, but hopefully I will have some help from my teammates."

The Kiwis have been forced to make a late change to their line-up with exciting young Penrith flier Dallin Watene-Zelezniak ruled out of the entire Four Nation series with a broken foot.

The 19-year-old injured his foot running on the beach at the Gold Coast on the weekend. Subsequent scans revealed a fractured bone that will sideline him for six weeks.

His place in the team for Saturday night's game has been taken by Dragons back Gerard Beale, while the squad vacancy has been filled by Broncos reject Josh Hoffman who has been told he is free to explore his options by new coach Wayne Bennett.

Meanwhile, Cherry-Evans dismissed concerns New Zealand would push Australia's inexperienced pack around in the middle with its significantly bigger and more physical forwards.

The Kiwis pack features Storm star Jesse Bromwich and giant Cowboys youngster James Taumalolo, set to make his debut for the New Zealanders.

Coach Tim Sheens is so light on props he has been forced to push Brisbane back-rower Sam Thaiday up into the front row alongside Wests Tiger prop and Test rookie Aaron Woods, Australia's only specialist prop.

"I've got no doubt this game, like most games will be won and lost in the middle," Cherry-Evans said.

"There's obviously a lot of raw talent and x-factor in our backline, but we're not going to be able to showcase that if we don't go forward and match it with these big Kiwi forwards."

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