Tim Sheens says it’s inevitable his ageing Kangaroos will undergo a period of change and he wants to guide them through it to the next World Cup.
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens wants to stay at his post for four more years to oversee a transition period heading into Australia’s World Cup defence.
Sheens, in his sixth successive season as Test mentor, dismissed reports he was chasing the vacant Warriors job in the NRL and turned his attention to the ageing Kangaroos’ future.
“I’d like to defend the World Cup but that’s up to the bosses,” he said.
At the forefront of Sheens’ mind is blooding new Test players at the right time to continue Australia’s success under his tutelage.
A record of 23 wins, one draw and one loss since replacing Ricky Stuart in 2009 speaks for itself. But he’s wary about arch-rivals New Zealand being in a better position in 2017.
The former Canberra and Wests Tigers premiership coach backed leaders such as Cameron Smith (30), Johnathan Thurston (30) and Paul Gallen (32). But he admitted not all could make it to the next World Cup.
“In England (last year) we were the oldest team to play for Australia,” he said.
“While it’s not saying we were a Dad’s Army, it does say there is a bit of a transition to take place.
“The Kiwis have done a bit of that themselves the last two years.”
Sheens used Darren Lockyer and Petero Civoniceva as examples of top players deserving their Test places in their mid-30s. But he said the harsh reality of age would inevitably catch some.
“You would have to think there is that many of them in the squad who are late 20s-early 30s range that there will be some sort of transition in the next four years,” he said.
Thurston and halves partner Cooper Cronk, 30, are already under the gun with Sheens admitting Manly halfback Daly Cherry-Evans is pushing both hard with his impeccable form.
“There’s always pressure and there’s a pressure there from Cherry,” the coach said.
“I’m not saying it’s on Cooper specifically. It’s on the halves.”
Sheens warning comes three weeks before the annual Anzac Test and at the announcement of this year’s Four Nations schedule.
Australia will open their Four Nations defence against the Kiwis in a Brisbane double-header on October 25, while Wellington will host the November 15 final.
Fiji and Samoa will play off for the fourth spot on May 2 in Penrith, with the winner to open the tournament against England at Suncorp Stadium.