COUNTRY CALLING? James Tedesco has made an oustanding start to the season for the Tigers.
COUNTRY CALLING? James Tedesco has made an oustanding start to the season for the Tigers. Matt King

In-form rookies deserve Kangaroos consideration

REPORTS new Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga is opposed to having any rookies in his first Australian side to play world No.1 New Zealand next month is puzzling.

As coach, it is Meninga's right to get the team he wants. After all, he will be the one blamed should Australia again lose to the Kiwis in Newcastle on May 6.

When Meninga first took over the coaching reins from Michael Hagan in 2006, Queensland was looking down the barrel of four straight Origin series losses.

The Maroons had lost the third game of the 2005 series to NSW 32-10 in front of their Suncorp Stadium faithful.

However Meninga made 10 changes to that side, blooding seven rookies, including Greg Inglis, Matt Scott, Sam Thaiday and Nate Myles, for game one in 2006.

Queensland didn't win the match, sunk 17-16 by a Brett Finch field goal.

But they won the next two in the series to kick-start a record streak of eight straight series wins - the greatest domination and dynasty in Origin history.

Meninga used 28 players in that defining series against the Blues that lifted Queensland back to Origin supremacy.

A decade later he takes control of an Australian team that has dropped the ball recently, handing the world No.1 ranking to New Zealand.

Surprisingly Meninga has declared rookies are "off limits" in his first Test side, despite the great early season form of players including James Tedesco, Corey Oates and young firebrand Dylan Napa.

Meninga has been quoted as saying he would consider selecting Fijian-born winger Semi Radradra, who has publicly declared his allegiances to Australia, although both Darren Lockyer and Johnathan Thurston believe it would be far better for the game internationally if the Eels try-scorer played for the Bati.

The Kiwis will name a powerful squad for the mid-season Test match, which they won 26-12 last year on their way to de-throning Australia as the best rugby league-playing nation in the world.

The Australian Rugby League deliberately head-hunted Meninga to replace Tim Sheens because they believed he was the man to get the Kangaroos back on top.

It's a similar scenario to when Queensland hired him.

With the Kiwis eyeing off their fourth straight win over Australia, including a victory in the 2014 Four Nations final, it might be advisable to adopt a similar attitude to Queensland back in 2006 and pick players on form.

As New South Wales has finally learned, if you keep going with the same players you keep getting the same results.



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