Bryce Cartwright, Semi Radradra, Michael Morgan and Blake Ferguson deserve to make their Test debuts in Mal Meninga’s first match as Kangaroos coach, according to former Australian captain Brad Fittler.
Fittler, who played 40 matches for Australia, has urged Meninga to blood a host of new players as the Kangaroos seek to return to the top of the rugby league world after suffering a hat-trick of losses to the Kiwis and relinquishing their status as the world’s No.1 nation.
Meninga’s ascension to the top coaching role in Australian rugby league, after Tim Sheen’s seven-year, 31-game stint, represents a new era for the game, and Fittler has urged the former Kangaroos captain to start afresh.
Fittler wants to see Ferguson and Radradra make their debuts on the wing, and Cartwright and Morgan to play their first international off the interchange bench.
“Over the past couple of years he (Radradra) has been our best winger by far,” Fittler said on Channel Nine’s Sunday Footy Show.
“You put him outside our centre (Inglis) they will work fantastic together.
“I have also gone for another big body in Blake Ferguson, not only can he bring the ball back but he is great in the air, he is a real play, you can give the ball to him and he will make something out of nothing.”
Fittler named Josh Dugan, Ferguson’s infamous roof top drinking partner in Canberra, as the right centre inside the Sydney Roosters three-quarter.
“These blokes have a partnership on all levels so they will know each other’s game back-to-front,” Fittler said.
Australia sit at second on the RLIF rankings on 719 points, well behind the Kiwis who are No.1 with 897 points.
The Kangaroos will be without Aaron Woods due to a knee injury and Will Chambers who has a foot problem.
Fittler said Cartwright and Morgan deserve their chance.
“Cartwright is my smokey at the death, you have these two blokes who can come on and if we need a try they can come up with a try,” Fittler said.
“Michael Morgan he can cover anywhere in the backline and Bryce Cartwright he does things at the moment that no one else can do on the field.”
The Kiwis are likely to be without fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck, who suffered a knee injury in the Warriors’ 24-20 win over Canterbury in Wellington on Saturday, with teammate Tuimoala Lolohea his likely replacement.
Brad Fittler’s Australia side: Darius Boyd, Blake Ferguson, Greg Inglis, Josh Dugan, Semi Radradra, Johnathan Thurston, Cooper Cronk, Matt Scott, Cameron Smith, James Tamou, Matt Gillett, Corey Parker, Greg Bird.
Interchange: Paul Gallen, David Klemmer, Bryce Cartwright, Michael Morgan.