Head Coach Mal Meninga has named two debutants for the Gallagher Kangaroos’ Pacific Championships match against New Zealand on Saturday, October 28.
Tom Flegler (Kangaroos number 850) and Nicho Hynes (851) will play their first match for the Kangaroos at Melbourne’s AAMI Park.
Their selection takes the total number of Kangaroos debutants in the Pacific Championships to six, after Dylan Edwards, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, Kotoni Staggs and Selwyn Cobbo represented Australia for the first time in the 38-12 win over Samoa in Townsville.
Cobbo, Liam Martin, Payne Haas and Tino Fa’asuamaleaui won’t back up in the final 17 against the Kiwis, with Meninga backing the talent and depth of the Kangaroos’ 21-man squad.
Flegler and Jake Trbojevic will start in the front row against a formidable New Zealand forward pack, while Valentine Holmes returns to the international arena on the wing.
The versatile Hynes is the new face on the interchange bench, with Reuben Cotter moving into the starting side.
Meninga said it was a great chance for the new additions to put their best foot forward in the AAMI Park clash.
“They’re all great players who deserve the opportunity to represent their country,” Meninga said.
“It’s really important that our full squad gets exposure to the intensity of international football to build confidence and match fitness for the duration of the Pacific Championships.
“Having all players take the field over the course of the first two games means we will be much better placed to handle any of the unknowns, like the possibility of injury or suspension, heading into a final.
“Right at this point though, our full focus is on this Saturday. It’s a massive game for us against an in-form New Zealand team, and I’ve got a lot of confidence in the players who are coming into the side.”
Saturday’s match will mark a special milestone for Holmes and Daly Cherry-Evans, with the Queensland pair to play their 20th matches for the Kangaroos.
The Kangaroos have been preparing in the regional New South Wales city of Albury, with more than 1500 fans attending the squad’s first field session at the Lavington Sports Ground.
1. James Tedesco (c)
2. Dylan Edwards
3. Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow
4. Kotoni Staggs
5. Valentine Homes
6. Cameron Munster
7. Daly Cherry-Evans
8. Jake Trbojevic
9. Ben Hunt
10. Tom Flegler*
11. Cameron Murray
12. Reuben Cotter
13. Isaah Yeo
14. Harry Grant
15. Lindsay Collins
16. Pat Carrigan
17. Nicho Hynes*
18. Liam Martin
19. Selwyn Cobbo