Rugby League World Cup: The Kangaroos Face Tough Decision Ahead Of Quarter Final

Head Coach Mal Meninga has some big calls to make...

Rugby League World Cup: The Kangaroos Face Tough Decision Ahead Of Quarter Final

Image: SEN

Kangaroos head Coach Mal Meninga is facing some tough choices when choosing his final 17-man squad for Australia’s Rugby League World Cup quarter-final clash with Lebanon.

After topping Group B, Australia look supremely confident going into the game on Saturday. The Kangaroos are unbeaten in this year’s tournament so far, scoring 192-points in only three games.

The strength of Australia’s team this year is noticeable across the park, with the backs looking electric in attack and the forwards forming an iron wall in defence.

However, with all the talent at the Kangaroos’ disposal, not everyone can make the final squad.

Read on as DMARGE takes you through Mal Meninga’s toughest decisions for Australia’s upcoming quarter final match up with Lebanon.

Daly Cherry-Evans or Nathan Cleary?

Daly Cherry-Evans (left) and Nathan Cleary (right) have both played in two games so far this World Cup. Image: @Kangaroos

Who will Australia choose as their half back? That is the question on all Australian fans’ minds in the lead up to the game on Saturday.

Nathan Cleary and Daly Cherry-Evans are both world-class and have split duties in the group stages, with both starting one test and the pair actually playing alongside one another in the game against Italy.

Although the latter could be a possibility against Lebanon, the chances are favoured five-eight Cameron Munster will be chosen to start.

Daly Cherry-Evans has the experience with Kangaroos, with 17 games for the men in the green and gold and impressed in Australia’s 66-6 win against Italy with six try contributions.

But Nathan Cleary is on a tear right now in the NRL and is arguably the best player in the league, winning back-to-back titles with Penrith in 2021 and 2022.

Will Cameron Munster get the deciding vote – if he is chosen as expected – as to who he wants to play alongside? Both might even be chosen in the final 17-man squad.

Regardless of who Mal Meninga chooses, Australia will have a solid pair of hands commanding the offence.

The Kangaroos’ final centre and winger spots?

Rugby League World Cup: Australian Kangaroos beat Italy 66-6 in St Helens  to top Group B - ABC News
Campbell Graham impressed in Australia’s games against Scotland and Italy. Image: @ABC

Australia’s backs have looked so dangerous on attack this year, with some standout players.

South Sydney main-man Latrell Mitchell scored and assisted some amazing tries against Italy, including a ridiculous one-handed offload on the stroke of halftime.

The Bulldogs’ Josh Addo-Carr has also been on top form this tournament; ‘Foxx’ scored a ridiculous four tries in Australia’s 84-0 demolition of Scotland.

With these two all but guaranteed shoe-ins, Meninga with decisions as to who else will be chosen for the to fill the final centre and winger spots.

Young Rabbitohs star Campbell Graham had two standout games for the green and gold, including a hat trick on debut against Scotland.

But more experienced players such as Valentine Holmes or Jack Wighton could find themselves chosen as steady pairs of hands for the quarter finals. Wighton can also cover as a back-up five eighth for Cameron Munster.

Matt Burton and Murray Tuilagi are also solid picks, with both putting their hands up for selection, with impressive debuts for the national team this tournament.

The Kangaroos’ Front Row

Australia have a staggering amount of depth in the forward pack too, with six quality props to make the 17-man squad.

This is arguably one of Meninga’s toughest calls, all props have played in two games in the tournament, with each of them warranting selection.

Patrick Carrigan impressed in his first two games and head coach Meninga is a big fan of Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, both of whom are arguably the most likely to make the final squad.

Jake Trbojevic and Reagan Campbell-Gilliard both have tons of experience and are safe picks if selected.

Reuben Cotter suffered a head-knock in game one against Fiji but was back in the squad for game three and Lindsay Collins, who made his debut in the game against Scotland, could also stake claim to a spot.

The Kangaroos’ Second Row

Jerimiah Nanai (far left) enjoyed a man of the match performance against Italy. Image @Kangaroos

This is another tough decision for the Kangaroos’ head coach.

Vice-captain Cameron Murray will likely be chosen for the squad based on his leadership role. But after the performances of the other men throughout the tournament, this is by no means a guarantee.

Jeremiah Nanai put in a man of the match performance against Italy and is strong defensively and on attack. Angus Crichton also put on a clinical performance against Fiji, which alone should put his name in the mix.

Liam Martin rounds of the list of second rowers could all be in with a shot of making the squad for Saturday’s game against Lebanon.

Although no selection will be bad for the Kangaroos given how talented their squad is, we can’t say we envy Mal Meninga right now.

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