NSW’s State of Origin victory has led to dominance in a Kangaroos merit team picked by Australian selectors from performances in the interstate series.
Greg Inglis is set to lead Australia’s generational change after being named captain of the Kangaroos for this month’s rugby league Tests against New Zealand and Tonga.
Inglis was on Monday named by coach Mal Meninga to succeed long-time skipper Cameron Smith as leader of a new-look 19-man squad, which is missing nine members from last year’s World Cup winning team.
Fullback James Tedesco, centre Latrell Mitchell, hooker Damien Cook and utility Tyrone Peachey are the four new names in the national side.
Tedesco has been guaranteed the fullback spot after Billy Slater’s retirement while Cook has a golden chance to establish himself as succeed Smith’s successor as Australia’s long-term No.9.
Both Inglis and Mitchell play on the left-side of the field, however, Meninga said he would move one of them to the right in an attempt to fit them both into the team.
Young dynamo Mitchell was rewarded for his dominance during NSW’s Origin series win and the Roosters’ run to the premiership.
He took the spot of Will Chambers after the two engaged in a running battle all year which culminated in Mitchell’s dominant head-to-head win over his nemesis on Sunday.
Newly-crowned NRL premiers Sydney Roosters have three players in the squad – Tedesco, Mitchell and skipper Boyd Cordner, who narrowly missed out on the captaincy.
Valentine Holmes is the only surviving backline member from the Kangaroos’ World Cup final victory with Slater and Cooper Cronk retiring, Josh Dugan, Dane Gagai and Chambers overlooked and Michael Morgan (bicep) injured.
Matt Gillett (neck) and Wade Graham (knee) are also unavailable.
“It is a bit of a transition period,” Meninga said.
“It’s a new, exciting breed of players. We’ve got two really good, strong Test matches to pit ourselves against.
“I know the international world thinks we’re a bit vulnerable at the moment because of the change and I’m confident we’ll do really well against New Zealand and Tonga.”
Daly Cherry-Evans is one of nine Queenslanders in the squad.
The Manly skipper has received his first Test call up in four years and has been named to partner Cameron Munster, however, the Melbourne No.6 could be rubbed out if he’s charged for kicking at Joseph Manu’s head during the grand final.
“The way he’s led the side through all the drama that’s happened this year, he’s kept the team on track and kept playing really well,” Meninga said of Cherry-Evans.
“I’m really happy with his progress and he’s matured as a leader and he’ll handle the position really well.”
Kangaroos squad: Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Daly Cherry-Evans, Damien Cook, Boyd Cordner, Tyson Frizell, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Greg Inglis (capt), Felise Kaufusi, David Klemmer, Josh McGuire, Jordan McLean, Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Munster, Tyrone Peachey, James Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic, Aaron Woods.