Canberra Raiders prop Shannon Boyd to make Kangaroos debut against Kiwis
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Canberra Raiders prop Shannon Boyd to make Kangaroos debut against Kiwis

"Big is beautiful again" and former Kangaroos prop Steve Roach proclaims Shannon Boyd has "realised how big he is" for what could be the beginning of a "long career in representative footy".

And Roach adds that Boyd's front-row partner at the Canberra Raiders, Junior Paulo, isn't far away from his representative debut either.

"Big is beautiful again" and Shannon Boyd, right, is "realising how big he is" ahead of his Kangaroos debut.

"Big is beautiful again" and Shannon Boyd, right, is "realising how big he is" ahead of his Kangaroos debut.Credit:Louie Douvis

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga named Boyd as one of three debutants to take on New Zealand in Perth on Saturday.

It comes off the back of a boom year for the big bopper where his destructive running played a big role in the Raiders' charge to the NRL preliminary final.

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Boyd almost gave the game away two years ago to return to his native Cowra, but instead he responded to Raiders coach Ricky Stuart's challenge and has taken his game to another level this season.

He made his NSW Country debut earlier this year and now he'll play his first game for Australia.

Roach praised the way the Raiders big man had evolved and said spending time with the best players in the world would only make him better.

"I think he's a tremendous player, I think he's come along really nicely. Ricky's done a fabulous job with him," he said.

"He's playing a lot more aggressively now and finally realising how big he is. I think he's going to get better.

"Going away on tour and seeing how blokes prepare and get themselves ready for big games, and playing with the better players will only help him.

"I think he's only going to get better and better. I think he's a great choice ... if he does the right thing he'll have a long career in representative footy."

Roach, who played 19 Tests for Australia, said Saturday's game against New Zealand and the upcoming Four Nations in England were perfectly suited for the powerful Boyd.

He felt it could be a good stepping stone for the Raiders prop to make his State of Origin debut next year.

"I think England will suit him a lot better than the speed of State of Origin. I think the English conditions and the way the Poms and the Australian side play will suit him a lot better," Roach said.

"You've got to take four or five big boppers into games now. You have a look at what the Kiwis and the Pommies are doing, you need some big bodies to try and stop their guys.

"I think that's one of the reasons behind picking him in that side – big is beautiful again mate."

Boyd was one of five Raiders named in Meninga's original squad, along with fellow front-rower Junior Paulo, Josh Papalii, Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua.

While Papalii (ankle), Croker (knee) and Leilua (Hamstring) were all ruled out due to injury, Boyd has made the cut, with Paulo playing for Samoa against Fiji last weekend.

But Roach thought the 22-year-old was also on the verge of representative honours in Australia.

"Not too far away, I think he's a great player. They use them well at Canberra when they start them both [Paulo and Boyd] together," he said.

"Their first stints are good so he wouldn't be too far away neither."

TEST MATCH

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Saturday: Australia v New Zealand in Perth, 7.50pm.

Kangaroos team: 1. Darius Boyd, 2. Blake Ferguson, 3. Greg Inglis, 4. Josh Dugan, 5. Valentine Holmes, 6. Johnathan Thurston, 7. Cooper Cronk, 8. Matt Scott, 9. Cameron Smith (captain), 10. Shannon Boyd, 11. Boyd Cordner, 12. Matt Gillett, 13. Trent Merrin. Interchange: 14. David Klemmer, 15. Michael Morgan, 16. Tyson Frizell, 17. Sam Thaiday.

David Polkinghorne covers the Canberra Raiders, local rugby league, Canberra Cavalry, racing and cycling, along with every other sport, for The Canberra Times.