tmedia
Skip to main content
Main content
Advertisement

Meninga swayed by experience in finals

Wed, Nov 15, 2017 - 03:00PM
By ‌Eden Richards‌‌, ‌NRL.com

Australia coach Mal Meninga has opted for experience over youth in his Kangaroos side to face Samoa, focusing on rewarding players who've been there and done it before.

Australia's sudden death quarter-final match-up against Toa Samoa in Darwin on Friday night will see the victor progress to face either New Zealand or Fiji the following week in Brisbane.

Samoa, who are yet to win a match in this year's tournament, face a tough task against a near full-strength Australian team hungry to win a World Cup as host nation for the first time since 1977.

The Kangaroos are odds-on favourites to break this 40-year drought and barring injuries this week's line-up will likely be the one to carry them through the rest of the competition. 

Sixteen of the 17 named for Friday's clash played against England in Round 1 of the tournament, with only lock Jake Trbojevic absent due to a torn pectoral muscle he suffered in that match.

That injury has presented Reagan Campbell-Gillard a well-earned opportunity on Australia's bench, with Brisbane's Josh McGuire slotting back into the starting 13 at lock. 

It creates a 17 that Meninga is comfortable with, and the relaxed coach is confident his team can get the job done on Friday and progress to the semi-finals.

"I'm happy with our squad… [they] have that edge in terms of experience" Meninga said.

"There's been a lot of pressure [for spots] placed internally by the younger ones but I think at this stage I'll go with the tried and true, and go with the team that has the experience to get the job done." 

Younger stars such as Felise Kaufusi, Tom Trbojevic, Josh Mansour and Cameron Munster have all had cameo appearances for the Kangaroos throughout the group stages, with the latter unlucky to miss selection after four tries in two games. 

While Meninga agreed that Munster had been outstanding, he said it would have been harsh on incumbent Michael Morgan to play Munster ahead of him at five-eighth. 

"Everyone has played well. Kaufusi has been really good in the last two games. Obviously Munster and Trbojevic have both done terrific jobs for us," he said.  

"Josh Mansour is another one, as well as Jimmy (James Maloney). I love Jimmy but I just don't think he had enough match fitness. He'd only played one game over a fair period of time. 

"Michael is the incumbent [five-eighth] and he deserves the opportunity."

 

Advertisement