Slater to be given a medical for Test side

Josh Dugan, Will Chambers, Trent Merrin and Alex Johnston will make their Test debuts for Australia in Friday’s rugby league clash with New Zealand.

Coach Tim Sheens has named wingers Dugan and Johnston and centre Chambers in the starting side while prop Merrin is on the interchange bench for the Test at Suncorp Stadium.

Fullback Billy Slater has been selected subject to a medical, having been out of NRL action for three weeks as he recovers from a shoulder injury.

Should Slater fail to prove his fitness on Tuesday, Greg Inglis will move to fullback and Michael Jennings, who was named as 19th man in an extended squad, will come in to the centres.

“I spoke to him (Slater) today and there will be a medical followed by a physical test out on the field,” Sheens said.

“He’s pretty confident he will play, we will do a thorough test on him as we don’t want to risk him.

“Bill was very close to playing this week and is the incumbent at fullback by a long way and he proved to me in 2013 in the World Cup that when he says he is right he is right.

“If he’s not he’ll put his hand up and won’t risk the team.”

Johnston’s inclusion caps a huge rise to the top for the 20-year-old who won a premiership with the Rabbitohs in his rookie season last year.

“He’s easily coached, talented with a thirst for knowledge, what more do you want,” Sheens said.

“He’s versatile, he’s played fullback. Michael Maguire as a coach has an opinion of a fullback for him down the line. He is a talented kid.”

Australia: Billy Slater, Alex Johnston, Greg Inglis, Will Chambers, Josh Dugan, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith (capt), Aaron Woods, Greg Bird, Sam Thaiday, Corey Parker. Interchange: Luke Lewis, Trent Merrin, Nate Myles, James Tamou.

Daly Cherry-Evans (18th man), Michael Jennings (19th man), Canberra forward Josh Papalii (20th man) were included as cover in vase of injuries.

AAP imc/nh

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