After finally seeing the Kangaroos’ lineup for their upcoming test against New Zealand, I can’t say I’m overly thrilled.
Like any die hard league fan I can be a bit harsh when it comes to team selections, because of course my opinion must (italics) be better.
But if history has anything to say about this fixture, it’s that Australia will win easily, so why not blood in some young guns to get them prepared for the World Cup?
While there are some obvious picks for the squad, there are some choices that have been purely based on past performances, something I hate seeing, and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
I strongly believe the likes of Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Will Chambers, Trent Merrin and Sam Thaiday should have been omitted from this match and replaced with up and comers.
For starters, Josh Dugan just isn’t a centre in my eyes. Sure, he can fill in there, but he isn’t a specialist.
With a quality crop of other options including Dylan Walker, Jack Bird, Joey Leilua and Jarrod Croker, it makes you wonder if Mal Meninga is trying to overcompensate for the loss of a big body like Greg Inglis purely by putting in Josh Dugan.
I can’t fault Will Chambers’ form this year, but again, I believe there are better options out there. It’s time to look into the future.
My personal choice would have been the two Raiders centres, who have both been tearing oppositions apart for the last eighteen months. Jarrod Croker has been deprived of much deserved accolades, and he comes as another option for goal kicking, while Joey Leilua has been destructive this year and has the same physicality that Greg Inglis provided.
The selection of Blake Ferguson is another head scratcher. Yes, I know he was awarded man of the tournament in last year’s Four Nations, but this year his form has been Jekyll and Hyde to say the least. He has been thrown between centre and wing this season and has put in some substandard positions.
I applaud the addition of Valentine Holmes, but I would have liked to see him paired up with Manly sensation Tom Trbojevic.
The Sea Eagles’ custodian has been one of the most consistent outside backs in the competition, and what better way to introduce him to rep footy than on the wing, with Darius Boyd more than capable to guide him?
There’s a high probability the young prodigy will be selected in the team at the end of the season, so I see no problem with fast tracking him into the green and gold jersey to see how he performs.
On to the forwards, well Trent Merrin’s inclusion is pretty baffling as his form this year has been worse than Amy Schumer’s stand up career.
I’m not sure what’s happened over the off season but he seems very disinterested, with his stats and involvement well down from last year.
Again, it’s a selection that’s based on form, and while I do appreciate the loyalty aspect, this isn’t a win at all costs game, so why not blood some a bloke like Wade Graham, or bring in Jake Trbojevic who did a fine job last year in the Four Nations and has been performing well at Manly.
I loved Sam Thaiday as a player and he seems to be an even better bloke off the field, but he doesn’t really offer anything unique to the side.
Realistically speaking the squad has 2 props, who are the starting two, which isn’t acceptable at any level let alone rep. Unless Shannon Boyd comes in off the bench, they’re going to have a hard time containing the exuberant Kiwi pack.
How the hell Andrew Fifita missed out is anyone’s guess, and I could go into a Queensland bias conspiracy about it, but Paul Vaughan is another bloke that’s been making strides for rep selection this year, but of course, Mal has to stick with blokes who did well 6 months ago.
Australia are favourites to win the World Cup already with their current legends in place, but there needs to be a time where we start blooding in young guys at the right time.
The ANZAC Test is the perfect time to bring in some new faces, but instead it seems like loyalty has shadowed preparation.
My ANZAC Test Team
1. Daris Boyd
2. Tom Trbojevic
3. Jarrod Croker
4. Joey Leilua
5. Valentine Holmes
6. Johnathan Thurston
7. Cooper Cronk
8. Aaron Woods
9. Cameron Smith (c)
10. Paul Vaughan
11. Boyd Cordner
12. Matt Gillett
13. Jake Trbojevic
14. Michael Morgan
15. Andrew Fifita
16. David Klemmer
17. Tyson Frizell