2020 has seen NRL clubs blood a huge number of young guys. This is the next generation of rugby league in Australia – guys born in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
Grand finalists and Origin winners have been rewarded in Mal Meninga’s 2019 Kangaroos squad, with six players in line for their Test debut.
Uncapped players Josh Addo-Carr, Nick Cotric, Payne Haas, Paul Vaughan and Jack Wighton – all of whom played a part in New South Wales’ State of Origin series victory this year – have been included in the 19-man Australian squad for matches against New Zealand and Tonga.
Cotric and Wighton are two of seven players in the side who played in last night’s decider, a group which includes captain Boyd Cordner and Roosters five-eighth Luke Keary, who has been named despite a high ankle sprain which he played through over the last two weeks of the finals.
With a Kangaroos tour and World Cup coming up over the next few seasons, Meninga – who today re-signed as national coach until the end of 2021 – lauded the combination of experienced incumbents and those who’ve tasted success at club and state level.
“We have an extremely healthy mix of incumbent players as well as a number of players who are yet to represent their country,” Meninga said.
“We have an established group of players who have been successful in the jersey and we now have some new faces who have either excelled in the State of Origin series, in the premiership, or both.”
The match against New Zealand will be played at Wollongong’s WIN Stadium on October 25, before a trip across the ditch to Eden Park to play Tonga on November 2.
Boyd Cordner (c)
The Australian squad for this month’s World Cup 9s was also named today. Three players – Addo-Carr, Wade Graham and Ben Hunt – have been named in both sides, while Newcastle star Kalyn Ponga will have a chance to impress in the abridged version of the game after missing out on Kangaroos selection.
Clint Gutherson, Mitchel Moses and Nathan Brown have been included after strong seasons for Parramatta, and Meninga has plenty of young talent at his disposal through the likes of Ryan Papenhuyzen and David Fifita.
Australian World Cup 9s squad