England think Aussies are vulnerable: Mal

England believe Australia are ripe for the picking in Friday's Rugby League World Cup opener, according to Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga.

 

Australia haven't lost to England in 22 years, however Meninga insists the old enemy are adamant they can flip the tournament on its head at AAMI Park.

"They're one of the major forces in the game of rugby league. They'll probably think we're at our most vulnerable tomorrow night. Again, we're prepared for that," Meninga said on Thursday.

Meninga made six changes to the team who beat New Zealand in their most-recent Test in May, including the unavailability of key duo Darius Boyd and Johnathan Thurston.

Are these guys vulnerable? Pic: Getty

He said the new faces in the team, as well as the expectation of Australia cantering to a World Cup win, were factors the team needed to address during camp.

"The first game of any series, you're not quite sure about your combinations. You get clunky when you talk about combinations and execution," Meninga said.

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"So we've got a few guys who haven't played for a while consistently, week in, week out. We've worked really hard this week on making sure that we take our club form into (Friday night's) tonight's game."

Meninga was also quick to ensure there was no complacency in the side, particularly among debutants Dane Gagai, Wade Graham and Jordan McLean.

"They've really bought into what we want from a cultural point of view and it's all about attitude and make sure they grab the moment," he said.

Asked whether he considered England as their biggest threat to defending their global crown, Meninga said: "I think our greatest threat is ourselves.

"We need to make sure that we don't be complacent, that we don't get too far in front of ourselves. We don't want to be seen as being selfless in the way we respect our opposition."

England have made their own changes to the side who defeated Samoa in a May Test, including fullback Jonny Lomax.

Seven players, led by forwards Sam Burgess and James Graham, play in the NRL.

"They're a big side and they've got a lot of experience in the middle so I would imagine that's where they'll be trying to force the issue, try to get on top of us," Meninga said.

"And they've got a lot of experience. All those players play in the NRL competition so they're not overawed by who they're playing against and they'll be confident going into tomorrow night."

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