Thaiday battling to be fit to face England

Ian McCullough
Thaiday battling to be fit to face England

Veteran Kangaroos back-rower Sam Thaiday is facing a fight to be fit to face England next week after injuring his knee in Australia's win over New Zealand.

Thaiday, who has been coming off the bench for Australia under Mal Meninga, pulled up sharply after being tackled late in the first half and admitted he was in some pain and could miss the London Stadium clash.

"It's a bit stiff now, a bit sore," said Thaiday, who described his unaccustomed bench role as 'the utility with ability.'

"We've got great doctors and great physios in the team. Whether I play or not next week is another question and that will be down to the medical staff.

"But I'll be right. I just have to run straight, no stepping."

Johnathan Thurston was also struggling after colliding with New Zealand fullback Jordan Kahu five minutes from time.

Thurston finished the game but was in obvious discomfort but Meninga expects his star playmaker to take his place in what he said would be his full-strength side in a must-win game for both teams to avoid elimination.

Australia could go out if New Zealand beat Scotland on Friday and then lose to Wayne Bennett's side, who were unconvincing in their 38-12 win over the Scots in the earlier match at the Ricoh Arena.

Meninga said he was taking no chances with his team selection.

"I said to the players we will play close to our Test team next week," Meninga said.

"Obviously Cooper (Cronk) will come back in to the side as will the majority of the players that played tonight.

"I thought Justin O'Neill did very well and that puts a bit of pressure on Josh Dugan and I'll have to make a decision there.

"I think our back row is pretty settled but what we do off the bench will be our main decision."

Tries from Blake Ferguson and Thurston, who also kicked three goals, sealed the win and Meninga said despite New Zealand fighting back in the second half, it was a better display from his side than the recent 26-6 win in Perth over David Kidwell's men.

"We were fairly dominant but couldn't put them away," Meninga said.

"They kept coming up with special efforts ... fair play to them.

"It was a bit scary at the end but we did enough to put them away.

"It was better than Perth, it was better executed and defensively we were good for most of the game."