Mal Meninga names his Kangaroos team to take on Fiji in World Cup opener

Mal Meninga has picked a largely inexperienced side to take on Fiji on Saturday in their Rugby League World Cup opener, with seven debutants named. 

Australia’s coach has decided to rest the premiership-winning Penrith contingent including Nathan Cleary and Isaah Yeo in favour of giving players who may not have played for a number of weeks some game time. 

“This is an extremely strong team and suits what we are trying to achieve over the whole tournament,” Meninga said.

“We have three pool matches and I aim to play every player during the pool matches.”

“The grand final players will not play against Fiji, while a number of the players we have named have not played in weeks. It’s important to give them match time as we look at our combinations.”

Kangaroos team to face Fiji 

1. James Tedesco (c)

9. Josh Addo-Carr

8. Latrell Mitchell

4. Valentine Holmes

23. Murray Taulagi*

7. Cameron Munster

2. Daly Cherry-Evans

18. Tino Fa’asuamaleaui*

3. Ben Hunt

5. Jake Trbojevic

17. Angus Crichton*

22. Jeremiah Nanai*

11. Cameron Murray (VC)

Interchange:

20. Harry Grant*

16. Reuben Cotter*

13. Pat Carrigan*

10. Jack Wighton

18th Man – Matt Burton

19th Man – Campbell Graham

*Kangaroos debutant

The squad announcement is the first time fans will get to grips with the unique jersey numbers assigned to players before the tournament. James Tedesco is in the No.1 jumper, while from there it all gets rather confusing. 

Murray Taulagi, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Angus Crichton, Jeremiah Nanai, Harry Grant, Reuben Cotter and Pat Carrigan will make their debuts for Australia when they run out at Headingley Stadium in Leeds. 

However, Meninga made it clear the team would be constantly rotated during the group stages, as he tried to hand players game time and work out what his best 17 was for the knockout stages of the tournament. 

“All of the players who will not play against Fiji will play the next match against Scotland,” Meninga said. 

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