Orange-born Cronulla five-eighth James Maloney, fresh off an NRL premiership win, was rewarded for his 2016 form with selection in Australia’s Four Nations squad on Tuesday morning.
Maloney was undeniably the form No.6 in the NRL premiership and was duly named Dally M five-eighth of the year before leading his Sharks to a 14-12 victory in Sunday’s grand final against Melbourne.
Maloney, a St Joseph’s-Sheahan junior, is one of six named in the squad who will make their international debut. It’s a group that also includes Cowra’s Shannon Boyd.
Maloney and Boyd are joined by fellow uncapped stars Matt Moylan, Valentine Holmes, Jake Friend and Tyson Frizell.
Somewhat surprisingly, Paul Gallen and Corey Parker were both left out of the squad while Semi Radradra and Andrew Fifita weren’t considered.
In Wade Graham, James Tedesco, Joey Leilua and Jarrod Croker there was no shortage of hard luck stories among the group of players touted as future Kangaroos.
“This is a new era for the Kangaroos and the squad which has been selected for the Four Nations tournament reflects that,” Kangaroos Coach Mal Meninga said.
“This squad has been selected for the present, but with an eye to the future.
“It is extremely heartening to see the players buy in and the quality of the players available highlights that.
“We have very experienced Test players as well as some outstanding young players who have big futures in the green and gold.”
The Australian Four Nations squad will depart for Perth this Sunday (October 9), farewelled at a special Kangaroos reunion at the Sydney Cricket Ground.
AUSTRALIA: Cameron Smith ©, Darius Boyd, Shannon Boyd, Boyd Cordner, Cooper Cronk, Josh Dugan, Blake Ferguson, Jake Friend, Tyson Frizell, Matt Gillett, Valentine Holmes, Greg Inglis, David Klemmer, James Maloney, Josh Mansour, Trent Merrin, Michael Morgan, Matt Moylan, Justin O’Neill, Josh Papalii, Matt Scott, Sam Thaiday, Johnathan Thurston, Aaron Woods