Casino?s dynamic duo
STEVE SPINKS and AAP email@example.com
CASINO has had two representatives named in the 23-man Australian rugby league Tri-Series squad with veteran Manly second-rower Ben Kennedy and boom Melbourne Storm centre Matt King both getting the nod from selectors yesterday.
Neither are surprise selections with Kennedy in the Australian squad last season and figuring prominently for NSW and Manly's rise from the bottom of the table to the top eight.
Besides losing a semi-final to the North Queensland Cowboys, King has had a brilliant season including winning the Brad Fittler medal in his first State of Origin series for NSW.
He also scored a hat-trick in the Blues win in the third and deciding match at Brisbane's Suncorp Stadium.
Remember, this is the man who only three years ago was working as a part-time garbage man and barman.
"It's massive," he said on the Storm's website.
"I thought Origin was pretty big but this is obviously the highest achievement you can get and I'm looking forward to it.
"I gave up the dream of playing for Australian when I was about ten or twelve years of age.
"I got an Australian jumper for my 12th birthday and I thought that was pretty massive, but to be going on tour with the team will be huge."
However, the former Marist Brothers player will be expecting to start on the wing, as he did for NSW, and not in the usual centre position he occupies for Melbourne.
Selectors didn't spring too many surprises for the Tri-Series which starts with Australia playing New Zealand in Sydney on October 15 and then continues in England.
The only bolter was North Queensland second-rower Luke O'Donnell.
O'Donnell has only ever won selection in the City Origin side, but after his barnstorming performances for the Cowboys during the finals his addition would not raise too many eyebrows.
Eight incumbents were omitted for the squad.
Tigers skipper Scott Prince capped a dream season by earning his first international call-up after being handed the Clive Churchill medal last night for his man-of-the-match performance in the 30-16 NRL grand final win over North Queensland at Telstra Stadium.
The 25-year-old halfback and O'Donnell were the only players from the grand final to make the 23-man squad.
Members of last April's Anzac Test team who missed out were Luke Rooney (Penrith), Shaun Berrigan (Brisbane), Willie Tonga (Bulldogs), Matt Sing (North Queensland), Brett Kimmorley (Cronulla), Luke Priddis (Penrith), Tonie Carroll (Brisbane) and Craig Wing (Sydney Roosters).
Tonga (knee), Kimmorley (personal), Carroll (hamstring), St George Illawarra prop Luke Bailey (ear), Brisbane utility Justin Hodges (leg) and Newcastle forward Steve Simpson (personal) were not considered.
The glaring omissions were Wing, who had been a Test regular since 2002, winger Rooney and North Queensland fullback Matt Bowen, who had impressed coach Wayne Bennett on the last Tri Nations tour.
Bennett said North Queensland half Johnathan Thurston could also 'consider himself unlucky' after being close to man of the match last night, capping a season that included his Queensland Origin debut and the Dally M Player of the Year award.
Despite claiming their maiden NRL premiership, the Tigers only had Prince named in the squad with mooted sentimental selections John Skandalis, fullback Brett Hodgson and hooker Robbie Farah overlooked.
Brisbane five-eighth Darren Lockyer retained the captaincy ahead of Newcastle halfback Andrew Johns.