Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has copped backlash after opting to drop Broncos winger Selwyn Cobbo for the returning Valentine Holmes with fans questioning his inclusion in the squad. Cobbo made his Kangaroos debut in Australia's 38-12 win over Samoa.
Meninga hinted at changes to the backline for the clash against New Zealand having not been completely satisfied with the performance. While he praised Kotoni Staggs and Hamiso Tibuai-Fidow, he left room for either Dylan Edwards or Cobbo to be dropped.
Holmes is returning after the NRL hit him with a one-game suspension for posting a photo with a bag with white power in it. And Meninga has wasted no time in selecting the Maroons centre back into the starting XIII.
However, his selection comes at the cost of Cobbo with Holmes moving to the wing after Staggs and 'The Hammer' retained their centre pairing combination. And some Australian fans have reacted with shock to Holmes' immediate recall.
NRLW star Millie Elliot questioned Holmes' inclusion with the Roosters player claiming he wasn't in top form to finish the season before his suspension. "We know he is such a great player. I can't really wrap my head around that selection," Elliot said on Triple M Radio. "I just think it's controversial. I think there are other players that have done well all year."
Wendell Sailor claimed Meninga selected Holmes for the big game due to his experience in the crucial moments. However, rugby league fans were divided with the controversial selection.
Many agreed with Elliot and questioned his inclusion for the clash against New Zealand on form. However, many Aussie fans disagreed and claimed Holmes deserves a position in the backline after many years playing in the green and gold.
The bloke holds the record for the most Kangaroo tries in a singular WC tournament, he deserves to be in the squad if available.
— Jack Blyth (@jblesfooty224) October 24, 2023
Must be resting Cobbo. Edwards had a rest during his debut game so he should be fresh.
— Dan (@drummerdan9) October 24, 2023
Why is Edwards in the side . There are at least half a dozen wingers that would run rings around him
— KidCowboy🤠 (@Kidcowboy2) October 24, 2023
I would have left him out.
— Amarillo (@Amarillo1942237) October 24, 2023
Val is one if not the top centre in the game. 19 tests for Australia, 16 for QLD. Not bad stats considering he also spent time in the NFL.
I'm happy for him to keep his spot.
— Brad Boucher (@WePlayLeague) October 24, 2023
Wtf…. He’s been elite every time he’s played rep footy!
— Cameron Boyce (@CaJBoyce) October 24, 2023
Shouldn’t be getting picked for NQ let alone Australia
— Matt (@matt_b05) October 24, 2023
Guess they were right hey??
Cobbo dropped for Val and Edwards retains the wing spot.
It was the obvious selection, who cares who was picked 1st.
Pick the player who performed better and that was Edwards.
— 🏆🏆🏆UNDISPUTED!!!🐾🐾🐾 (@pennypanthers22) October 24, 2023
Nicho Hynes confident ahead of Kangaroos debut
One player that will be thrilled to make the side to face New Zealand is Nicho Hynes. The Sharks halfback will make his debut off the bench for the Kangaroos having endured a rollercoaster year. Hynes debuted for NSW in June but was dropped after one match when he was thrown on at right centre for the final 12 minutes.
Playing out of position, Hynes missed a tackle in the lead-up to a Queensland try. Hynes' form was impacted after being dropped, which he later admitted that the Origin axing had affected his confidence.
However, after Meninga included him in the squad due to Nathan Cleary's injury, Daly Cherry-Evans has helped guide the halfback in the camp and Hynes has admitted he is ready for his debut.
"I have a much clearer idea of what my role is this time around," he told AAP. "That's with all due respect to the NSW camp. I will come in well-equipped to playing this role.
"Mal's been in this position before with similar players like Michael Morgan, (Cooper) Cronk, 'Chez' (Daly Cherry-Evans) did it too off the bench. We have a plan, we've trained it already and now it's a case of going out and nailing it."
Hynes admitted while he is accustomed to starting games, he isn't foreign to coming off the bench and making an impact. "I've done this before, and getting thrown out there with 10 minutes to go in an Origin game doesn't define what my capabilities are as a utility off the bench," Hynes said.
"I have been there and done that before, so I won't let that one thing define me in the era. I am a much more confident and mature player than I was six months ago."
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