Nicho Hynes has been overlooked for selection in Mal Meninga's Kangaroos side for the Pacific Championship final against New Zealand after calls from Michael Ennis that he should be retained. Hynes made his debut for the Kangaroos in last weekend's 36-18 win over the Kiwis, playing 25 minutes off the bench.
Meninga opted to rest a number of his starting forwards, opening up a spot for Hynes on the bench. Meninga showed Brad Fittler how to use Hynes as a bench weapon, with the Cronulla star showing his versatility and all-field value.
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Hynes started in the middle as a roving utility, but moved into the halves when five-eighth Cameron Munster came off. There was also the possibility that Hynes could play fullback after James Tedesco suffered a slight knock, but the captain managed to see out the rest of the game.
But despite Hynes showing his remarkable versatility, there was no room for him in the 17 when Meninga named his team for the final on Tuesday. With Payne Haas, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui and Liam Martin all coming back into the side, Reuben Cotter has reverted to the bench and forced Hynes out.
That's despite Ennis saying he thought Hynes had done enough to warrant selection over Cotter. “His versatility - his ability to go into the middle part of the field and play as that 13 and we saw Munster came off, Tedesco got a little knock and there was a possibility he’d go to fullback," Ennis said on Fox League.
"He can play five-eighth, halfback, he’s trained at dummy half… there is no more versatile man in their squad than Nicho Hynes and in big games with HIAs, to have that versatility is a luxury.
“It’s clear Mal freshened up his two middle forwards, there’s no doubts that Tino and Payne will be back in the middle and have been two of the elite front-rowers in the competition this season. I’ve been a huge supporter of (Cotter) publicly and Mal went with him on the bench against Samoa, (but) I feel like on the back of Nicho Hynes’ performance and the versatility he brings. Just due to the fact of minutes in the middle of the field and the influence of these two men in (Lindsay) Collins and (Patrick) Carrigan, they probably don’t need another middle forward. They are better off having that versatility that Hynes brings and therefore maybe Reuben Cotter misses out next week.”
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Meninga said on Tuesday: “We’ve adopted a squad mentality right from the start of the championships, and every player and support staff member has played a part in getting us to where we currently are. Unfortunately some great players have missed out, but that’s the nature of the beast at international level when you’ve got such a high-calibre playing group all putting their hands up, and all buying into the culture of what this Australian team is about.
“We’ve settled on a really strong team and combinations that have worked well for us in the past. Ultimately it is now about continuing the momentum we’ve built and delivering a performance that Australian supporters can be proud of this Saturday.”
Tom Flegler and Jake Trbojevic have also missed out after playing last weekend, while Valentine Holmes has been preferred on the wing to Selwyn Cobbo. Holmes played in the win over the Kiwis in Melbourne last weekend after Cobbo was given his Test debut against Samoa a fortnight earlier.
Holmes was serving a suspension during the Samoa game for posting an image on social media in September of him holding a small bag containing white powder. Meninga previously said he was was a "big fan" of Holmes and was prepared to overlook the silly mistake.
Kangaroos team for Pacific Championship final
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