Dylan Edwards left out of Australia’s World Cup squad, Tedesco to captain
- Penrith’s Clive Churchill medallist ‘desperately unlucky’
- Australia kick off their World Cup defence in Leeds against Fiji
Mal Meninga has described Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards as “desperately unlucky” to miss out on a Kangaroos call-up after appointing James Tedesco as Australia’s new Test captain.
Edwards claimed the Clive Churchill Medal on Sunday after a courageous showing in the Panthers’ grand final win over Parramatta.
The full-back has been in scintillating form and, with Kalyn Ponga and Tom Trbojevic sidelined, may never have a better chance to earn a Test cap.
But with Tedesco the first name on Meninga’s team list – and Valentine Holmes, Latrell Mitchell and Cameron Munster all able to fill in at full-back – the Penrith man missed out.
“Our best player is a full-back [and our captain] James Tedesco,” Meninga said. “It’s difficult. We had several conversations about this and unfortunately Dylan misses out.
“We have some excellent options at full-back and touch wood Teddy is there for the entire time. [Edwards] is desperately unlucky.”
Edwards, Dally M medallist Nicho Hynes and incumbent hooker Damien Cook will remain on standby in Sydney.
Australia kick off their World Cup defence in Leeds against Fiji on Saturday, 15 October (Sunday AEDT) with Cameron Murray and Isaah Yeo appointed as Tedesco’s vice-captains.
Yeo, Nathan Cleary and Liam Martin are the three players chosen from Penrith’s premiership-winning side, with Reagan Campbell-Gillard the sole representative from runners-up Parramatta.
There is no leadership role for Queensland and Manly skipper Daly Cherry-Evans, who is locked in a battle with Cleary for the No 7 jersey. Cleary joins Queensland hooker Harry Grant among 13 debutants in Meninga’s squad.
Meninga admired how the Maroons rotated Grant and Ben Hunt at hooker in State of Origin and has said he will aim to mirror that tactic.
Cook is the man to miss out, with Meninga describing the decision as “extremely difficult”.
“We made a decision that we want to go with two hookers and the third one was the utility value which is Reuben Cotter,” he said.
“Damien has been a great servant for the Rabbitohs and he is the incumbent but we felt the Queensland hookers were best placed to be in the squad.”
Tedesco is relishing the opportunity to take the captaincy after rising to leadership roles with the Roosters and the NSW Blues over the last two seasons.
The 29-year-old is one of the few players with previous experience of touring England, having been part of the 2013 Italy side.
“I don’t think there is a higher honour than to represent and lead the whole country,” he said.
“When Mal called me, I was pretty speechless. I’m really proud of myself and I know it’s a big task.”
AUSTRALIA’S SQUAD: Josh Addo-Carr, Matt Burton, Reagan Campbell-Gillard, Patrick Carrigan, Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Lindsay Collins, Reuben Cotter, Angus Crichton, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Campbell Graham, Harry Grant, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Liam Martin, Latrell Mitchell, Cameron Munster, Cameron Murray (vc), Jeremiah Nanai, Murray Taulagi, James Tedesco (c), Jake Trbojevic, Jack Wighton, Isaah Yeo (vc).