Greg Inglis will captain Australia’s Kangaroos in their upcoming Test matches against New Zealand and Tonga, while the Roosters have been rewarded for their 14th first grade premiership with players gaining rep jumpers.
Alongside NSW Origin skipper and incumbent Test back-rower Boyd Cordner, Roosters teammates Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco have been named in Mal Meninga’s 19-man squad for the Kiwis and Mate Ma’a games.
Centre Joseph Manu, a 2015 Junior Kiwis player, was named in the senior Kiwis side to play his Roosters teammates at Mt Smart Stadium on October 13. Fellow Roosters Isaac Liu and Jared Waerea-Hargreaves were included in the NZ forward pack.
Another member of the Roosters NRL premiership winners, Victor Radley, has been named with teammate Sean O’Sullivan in the Junior Kangaroos side, who will play one of the curtain-raiser games with the Jillaroos-Kiwis Ferns women’s Test.
Dual premiership-winning five-eighth Luke Keary was named as “a shadow” player by Meninga, in case incumbent No.6 Cameron Munster fell foul of the NRL judiciary for striking Joseph Manu in Sunday night’s 21-6 grand final win over Melbourne.
But Munster was fined $1,400 on low-grade contrary conduct charge.
The Storm had their Kangaroos quota cut severely with the retirements of Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Cooper Cronk. There are only two for this Test series - Munster and Felise Kaufusi.
The Kangaroos will feature a new-look spine, with Tedesco, Munster, Daly Cherry-Evans and Damien Cook to fill the fullback, five-eighth, halfback and hooker roles. Munster is the only survivor from the World Cup final in December 2017 - the last time the Australians played a Test match.
Tyrone Peachey is the fourth debutant in the squad alongside Mitchell, Tedesco and Cook.
“This is a new era for the Kangaroos and it is a very exciting one, based on the talent available,” Meninga said.
“There is certainly a strong showing from the NSW squad which won the State of Origin series and we have a number of players who performed exceptionally well through the Telstra Premiership Finals Series as well as in the grand final.”
There are just seven Queenslanders in Meninga’s 19-player squad to reflect the Blues success. Meninga also named his squad alphabetically as he was one dilemma to solve - Inglis or Mitchell on the left-edge as both centres play there for their respective clubs.
“We’ll make those decisions when we come into camp. They both play left but we believe either GI or Latrell can play on the right as well,” Meninga said.
Meninga said two players he felt for were Dane Gagai (Rabbitohs) and Will Chambers (Storm) as they lost their places.
“They fully understand that it’s a real prestige and honour to play with the Kangaroos, and while loyalty plays its part at times, you’ve got to go on form as well,” Meninga said.
“And you look at the Origin series and the players that have been picked going into the finals, they deserve to be there.”
But Cherry-Evans returns after a four-year absence with Meninga applauding his resilience in the tough year Manly had with injury and salary cap concerns.
“The way he’s led the Manly side through all the drama that’s happened this year and kept the team on track, kept playing really well for his club, made his return to the Queensland Origin team,” Meninga said.
“He’s matured as a leader at Manly and will handle the position really well.”
Ben Hunt and Tyrone Peachey will fight it out for the bench spot as they can both play in the halves and at hooker.
The Kangaroos have not played the Kiwis in New Zealand for four years, and have not played in Auckland since the 2012 game at Eden Park (Australian won 2012).
Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Panthers)
Daly Cherry-Evans (Sea Eagles)
Damien Cook (Rabbitohs)
Boyd Cordner (Roosters)
Tyson Frizell (Dragons)
Valentine Holmes (Sharks)
Ben Hunt (Dragons)
Greg Inglis (c, Rabbitohs)
Felise Kaufusi (Storm)
David Klemmer (Bulldogs)
Josh McGuire (Broncos)
Jordan McLean (Cowboys)
Latrell Mitchell (Roosters)
Cameron Munster (Storm)
Tyrone Peachey (Panthers)
James Tedesco (Roosters)
Jake Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
Tom Trbojevic (Sea Eagles)
Aaron Woods (Sharks)