By STEVE MASCORD
NATE Myles was dropped from Australia’s starting team on Saturday because he had been accidentally elbowed in the chest by his captain, Cameron Smith.
Myles’ demotion from starting at lock to the bench – where he stayed until the 56th minute of the 18-10 win over New Zealand – was a contentious topic after the Dairy Farmers Stadium international, with former Test forward Nathan Hindmarsh Tweeting: “If you started with Nate miles (sic) the job would have been done earlier”.
Coach Tim Sheens afterwards explained that while he did want to start with Tony Williams, Myles had aggravated his long-running sternum injury during the week at training.
Team doctor Dave Givney told the Herald: “Nate copped an accidental elbow in it from another bloke at training. It was Cameron Smith.
“It was not supposed to be a contact session, Nate wasn’t wearing his pad. He’s fine when he’s wearing the pad.”
Smith, who on Saturday became only the third premiership captain to lift club, state and international trophies in the same year.
Debate over the use of the interchange bench has been a mark of Sheens’ tenure as national coach, with Daly Cherry Evans included in the previous trans-Tasman encounter in April but not used at all.
Kiwis coach Stephen Kearney thought the inclusion of Manly’s Tony Williams in place of Myles was tactical.”It didn’t bother us,” he said. “I anticipated they’d try and send him and Benj’ (Marshall) and I thought Benj’ and Kevin Proctor handled him well.”
When Myles did go on, he also picked up a knee injury. Similar problems to interchange forward Ryan Hoffman (ankle) and centre Greg Inglis (knee) would not impact on their pre-seasons, Givney said.
After prop James Tamou won the players’ player award, second rower Paul Gallen reflected on the night he asked the Maori representative to switch to NSW. The pair planned to return to the scene of their chance meeting after Saturday’s match.
“It was an interesting session, that one,” vice-captain Gallen said. “I thought he was geeing up. I was actually putting crap on him all night, giving it to him.
“I didn’t realise how big he was until I was up close to him. Then he told me he wanted to play with me. I was, like, “how’s that going to happen?’and he said he wanted to play for NSW.
“Yeah, it’s all come about from there but I think we’ll relax tonight. We won’t be talking about footy.”
While the clash finished with the same margin as the previous match between the countries, it was tight enough for Australia to opt for a penalty goal in the 62nd minute to break a 10-10 deadlock.
“It was looking a bit hair there … 10-all,” said prop David Shillington. “A lot of people don’t take the two points these days, they go for the try, but we weren’t completing as well as we could have, we weren’t as dominant as we could have been.
“Taking the two points … would have broken them a little bit and put a bit of wind in their sails. You just have to defend then, when you’re two points up. You don’t have to try and create anything fantastic.”
Five-eighth Johnathan Thurston declared his assigment in 2012 – completing the switch to five-eighth and replacing Darren Lockyer at representative level – as mission accomplished.
“It’s a bit of relief,” North Queensland’s Thurston said. “Certainly, the first Test at Eden Park was a fair bit of pressure and game three of the State Of Origins series was a lot of pressure, I felt.
“Look, just to play alongside the boys and do what we do is a pleasure. I feel like I filled those boots pretty well.”
Filed for: SYDNEY MORNING HERALD