KANGAROOS NAME 10 DEBUTANTS FOR FOUR NATIONS
Australia has named 10 debutants in a 24-man squad for the upcoming Four Nations tournament, including a pair of teenaged rookies.
After the Kangaroos’ selection pool was decimated by injuries, Tim Sheens and his panel have called up uncapped players Aidan Guerra, Ben Hunt, Josh Jackson, Alex Johnston, David Klemmer, Josh Mansour, Sione Mata’utia, Daniel Tupou, Dylan Walker and Aaron Woods.
Newcastle’s Mata’utia is the shock inclusion, in line to play Test football for the world champions after just seven NRL appearances at wing and fullback for the Knights. Mata’utia only turned 18 in June, and will overtake Israel Folau’s record as Australia’s youngest-ever Test player (18 years and 194 days) if he takes the field during the tournament. He undeniably ranks as one of the biggest bolters in Australia’s representative history, while his cause was helped by the recent withdrawal of Will Chambers due to injury.
He is one of four first-timers vying for a wing spot, along with Josh Mansour, NSW flyer Daniel Tupou, and fellow rookie sensation Alex Johnston. The 19-year-old Johnston scored 21 tries in 18 games for Souths – including the first try of the club’s grand final triumph.
Canterbury prop David Klemmer, a City Origin debutant this year and a veteran of only 27 first grade games, is the most stunning inclusion of the engine-room contingent. The 20-year-old giant is one of just two specialist props in the squad – 23-year-old debutant Woods being the other – which makes the snubbing of in-form veterans Jacob Lillyman and Aiden Tolman even harder to fathom. The dearth of props in the Kangaroos’ ranks suggests Queensland backrowers Corey Parker, Sam Thaiday and Josh Papalii can expect to see plenty of time up front.
Penrith sensation Matt Moylan, a hot tip for Kangaroo bolter status in recent weeks, was overlooked; Greg Inglis and Jarryd Hayne are the only recognised fullbacks in the team.
Inglis is the likely No.1 selection, with Hayne set to reprise his World Cup role as a centre. South Sydney sensation Dylan Walker, who turned 20 the day after the Rabbitohs’ preliminary final victory, is locked in a battle with NSW Origin regular Michael Jennings for the other centre spot.
Brisbane No.7 Ben Hunt capped a remarkable breakout campaign by snaring the back-up halves spot behind Cooper Cronk and Daly Cherry-Evans, with his versatility getting him the nod ahead of Mitchell Pearce and Adam Reynolds. Hunt, a long-serving interchange dummy-half with the Broncos, will compete for the bench utility role with Robbie Farah.
Veteran Blues backrowers Beau Scott and Ryan Hoffman have earned recalls after last representing Australia in 2011 and 2012 respectively. They will vie for Test spots with Boyd Cordner, and newcomers Guerra and Jackson, with Thaiday, Parker and Greg Bird assured of places in the 17.
Inglis, Hayne, Cronk, Bird, Thaiday, Cherry-Evans, Parker, Papalii and captain Cameron Smith, who should become just the seventh player to make 40 Test appearances for Australia during the tournament, are the only survivors from the Kangaroos’ 2013 World Cup final-winning 17.
Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans/West Maitland Red Dogs/ Maitland Pumpkin Pickers)
Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles/Mackay Brothers)
Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters/Old Bar Pirates)
Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm/Souths Acacia)
Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers/Enfield Federals/Leichhardt Wanderers)
Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters/Townsville Brothers)
Jarryd Hayne (Parramatta Eels/East Campbelltown Eagles/Cabramatta)
Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne Storm/Campbelltown Collegians)
Ben Hunt Brisbane (Broncos/Blackwater Crushers)
Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs/Bowraville Tigers)
Josh Jackson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs/Gulgong Terriers/Mudgee Dragons)
Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters/St Marys/West City Tigers)
Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs/La Perouse Panthers)
David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs/All Saints)
Josh Mansour (Penrith Panthers/St Johns/Kingsgrove Colts)
Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights/Raymond Terrace/South Newcastle)
Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders/Logan Brothers)
Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos/Logan Brothers)
Beau Scott (Newcastle Knights/Picton Magpies)
Cameron Smith (c) (Melbourne Storm/Logan Brothers)
Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos/Townsville Brothers)
Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters/Berala Bears/Guildford Owls)
Dylan Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs/Mascot Jets)
Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers/Leichhardt Juniors)
KANGAROOS’ FOUR NATIONS SCHEDULE
Saturday, October 25: Australia v New Zealand @ Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Sunday, November 2: Australia v England @ AAMI Park, Melbourne
Sunday, November 9: Australia v Samoa @ WIN Stadium, Wollongong
Saturday, November 15: Four Nations final @ Westpac Stadium, Wellington