Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens.
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens. Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Sheens' job not on the line now

TIM Sheens' six-year reign as Kangaroos coach is unlikely to hinge on the result of Saturday night's Four Nations final against New Zealand in Wellington.

The 64-year-old has lost only two of his 29 Tests since taking the job in 2009 - both to the Kiwis.

One was the Four Nations final in 2010, and the other was the 30-12 loss to New Zealand in Brisbane during this series almost three weeks ago.

The national coach is appointed on a year-to-year basis by the Australian Rugby League, after it reviews his performance and Australia's results at the end of each year.

Sheens is known to be keen to continue working with a number of rookies he has blooded during this international series.

His 26-2-1 record stacks up alongside any previous Australian coach including Bob Fulton (33-6-1), Chris Anderson (21-3-0), Ricky Stuart (12-2-0) and Wayne Bennett (12-3-0) .

But to lose a second Four Nations final in five years would be a blemish on his impressive record, and a heavy loss in such a big game could open the door to a challenge next season.

Already missing a host of stars because of injury, including front-rowers Matt Scott and James Tamou, classy fullback Billy Slater and match-winning No.6 Johnathan Thurston, things have continued to go wrong for the Kangaroos in the build-up to the final. Sheens was forced to cancel training yesterday after several players reported in ill as a viral infection hit the team's base in Wellington.

Three players, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk and young forward David Klemmer, were isolated from teammates and failed to attend an official meet-the-fans function for both teams.

To make matters worse, the Australian's team bus driver got lost on the way to the event and kept rival coach Stephen Kearney and his players, and the city's mayor, waiting for 30 minutes.

When the Australians finally arrived, minus their quarantined players, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown took a good-natured dig.

"I wish the teams the best of luck on Saturday night ... hopefully the Australians turn up on time," she said light-heartedly.

Sheens played an off-colour Greg Inglis in the first-up loss to New Zealand after he came down with a viral bug just before the game, a move he admitted later had backfired on him.

This time all the players will be checked before being cleared to play on Saturday night.

Captain Cameron Smith played down any concerns, saying the decision to call off training was a safety measure.

"We're not worried," he said.

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