An Australian win in the Four Nations rugby league final is likely to deliver coach Tim Sheens a new one-year contract, but a loss could leave his international future uncertain.
If Sheens can inspire a Kangaroos win over New Zealand in Saturday’s Four Nations decider against New Zealand, it would rank as one of the four-time first-grade premiership-winning coach’s greatest achievements.
Australia are without 12 players from their World Cup triumph, opening the tournament with a spirit-sapping 30-12 loss to the Kiwis.
Sheens has blooded nine Test rookies in the defeat to the Kiwis and in wins over England and Samoa.
Kangaroos coaching appointments are made on a year-by-year basis and Sheens has been in discussions with team management about extending his time at the helm, which began with the 2009 Four Nations campaign.
Wayne Bennett famously stood down from the post after Australia’s loss to New Zealand in the 2005 Tri Nations final which ended the Kangaroos’ 27-year dominance of international rugby league.
Ricky Stuart took over from 2006-08.
Sheens has declined to publicly address speculation over his future in the lead-up to the Four Nations decider.
But he has revealed the pressure he is under as he attempts to mould the new-look Kangaroos into a Four Nations-winning outfit.
“There is always a certain amount of pressure that goes with the national side,” Sheens said.
“But it is how you handle it – that is the secret to it.
“You carry those expectations, but you don’t let them get in the way.
“It is the processes, not the outcomes, and we have handled the last two weeks well, playing back-to-back games we had to win or we would go out of the competition.
“I think we have showed that we have been up to it and we are going to have to step up again this week.”