Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has picked three premiership-winning Penrith stars for the upcoming Pacific Championships but overlooked star fullback Dylan Edwards, who misses out on a representative jumper yet again.
Broncos stars Kotoni Staggs and Selwyn Cobbo are in line to make their Kangaroos debuts after being picked in the 20-player squad along with Brisbane teammates Payne Haas, Tom Flegler and Pat Carrigan.
Meninga has also picked North Queensland star Valentine Holmes despite the 28-year-old being handed a one-game ban for a post-season incident that means he can’t play the first match and winger Josh Addo-Carr, who is also being investigated by the NRL.
“Just to have him part of the squad, training with the squad, getting back to that rugby league environment will be good for him,” Meninga said of Holmes.
Unsurprisingly, Clive Churchill medallist Nathan Cleary has been picked along with his premiership teammates Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin.
But there was no room for fullback Edwards or Brisbane star Reece Walsh, with Kangaroos captain James Tedesco a “unanimous” selection as the No.1 custodian after recapturing some of his best form late in the NRL season with the Roosters.
Meninga was given permission to pick both Holmes and Addo-Carr.
Holmes was pictured with a white bag in his mouth and it is understood the NRL has finalised his sanctions, with a one-match ban expected. He could serve that in the international arena, ruling him out of the Kangaroos’ opening game.
Addo-Carr was involved in a brawl at the Koori Knockout tournament last weekend during which police became involved. The Bulldogs star wasn’t charged but the incident has been referred to the NSW Rugby League and event organisers and the NRL is conducting inquiries.
Latrell Mitchell was made unavailable for selection by South Sydney due to a finger injury despite Meninga being “surprised” he played in the Koori Knockout last weekend.
“South Sydney said he was unavailable, so we’ve gone with that,” Meninga said.
The Kangaroos will play Samoa in Townsville and New Zealand in Melbourne as part of the new-look tournament before the final in Hamilton.
Josh-Addo Carr, Pat Carrigan, Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Selwyn Cobbo, Lindsay Collins, Reuben Cotter, Tino Fa‘asuamaleaui, Tom Flegler, Harry Grant, Payne Haas, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Liam Martin, Cameron Munster, Cameron Murray, Kotoni Staggs, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, James Tedesco, Jake Trbojevic, Isaah Yeo.