Youngster might be in for the Roos
COACH Tim Sheens could today be handed one of the most inexperienced national sides in memory to defend the Four Nations title, with the squad likely to include several debutants and possibly the youngest player to pull on a Kangaroos jumper.
With Australia's side diluted by an unprecedented number of injuries to top-flight players, selectors are tipped to come up with several new faces.
The big bolter in Sheen's 24-man squad could be teenage sensation Sione Mata'utia who burst onto the NRL scene under Wayne Bennett at Newcastle in the second half of the season, scoring seven tries in seven games.
At 18 years and 122 days, Mata'utia, one of three brothers playing in the NRL, could be the youngest player to debut for Australia. Other players in line for their first games in Australia's opening match of the series against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on October 25 include premiership-winning South Sydney teammates Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston.
Another possible inclusion is young Bulldogs back-rower Josh Jackson, while teammate David Klemmer and young Roosters tyro Dylan Napa are outside chances for a bench spot. With Billy Slater recovering from surgery, Greg Inglis will keep Penrith's Matt Moylan out of the fullback spot, with Dally M co-winner Jarryd Hayne claiming one centre spot to leave Michael Jennings and Walker battling for the other.
The forward pack should feature Sam Thaiday and Aaron Woods in the front-row with Cameron Smith, and a back-row of Greg Bird, Aidan Guerra and Corey Parker.
Former Melbourne Storm premiership player Ryan Hoffman is likely to be on the bench with either Ben Hunt or Robbie Farah as a utility.