Kangaroos winger Valentine Holmes will work on his defensive combination with centre Latrell Mitchell in a bid to counter Tonga’s David Fusitu'a in Saturday’s historic Test at Mt Smart Stadium.
Holmes is renowned for his try-scoring ability after touching down for the 12th time in the last four appearances for Australia during last weekend’s loss to New Zealand but Fusitu'a edged him out for the inaugural Ken Irvine Medal in this season’s Telstra Premiership.
The Test against the Kiwis was the first time Holmes had played outside Mitchell and while the pairing had a dream start after the Cronulla star scored in just the third minute, New Zealand registered two tries down their side.
"I'll be up against a tough one there," Holmes said of Fusitu'a, who scored 22 tries for the Warriors during the regular season.
"He is a very good finisher so I'll be into Latrell about D-ing up with me. I can’t give him too much space."
With Holmes having crossed for 21 tries, the duel between the NRL’s two leading tryscorers will be one of a number of intriguing personal battles in Saturday night’s Test, with Tonga prop Andrew Fifita going up against fellow Cronulla front-rower Aaron Woods.
"He is pretty loud and vocal, he doesn’t care what anyone thinks. He just comes out and plays footy," Holmes said of Fifita. "That’s why he was our best forward this year. He has a lot of experience in rep teams.
"We have a big game on our hands. He has been talking about it for a while. They showed in the world Cup they are a competitive and strong team. We have to get pretty serious after last week, if we play like we did they will hurt us as well."
Despite the first loss of his 14-match reign as Kangaroos coach, Mal Meninga chose to stick with the same line-up as last week in a bid to develop combinations.
Five-eighth Luke Keary needs to be cleared after being forced from the field with a concussion in the 13th minute of his Test debut but he is expected to play.
Utility Tyrone Peachey is on standby for Keary, while prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard is the other member of the 19-man squad to again miss out on a place in the team.
The Penrith star conceded his form had suffered late in the season after he returned from a broken jaw so just to have been selected in the Australian squad was a boost to his confidence.
"There are a couple of games towards the back end of the year I was down on confidence and form," he said.
"I’ve never experienced that in my career, to have some shit form. I can't pinpoint what it was. [But] getting picked in this, it gives you confidence and motivation to play good footy."