Andrew Johns has called for the ageing Kangaroos to be injected with new blood and for Anthony Milford and Dylan Napa to be among five rookies taken on the end-of-season Four Nations tour.
The Kangaroos were branded too old and incapable of winning next year’s World Cup following Friday’s 16-0 dour win over New Zealand, with Phil Gould calling for changes to the squad.
Immortal Johns wants Australian coach Mal Meninga to use the Four Nations tournament against England, New Zealand and Scotland to give Milford, Napa, Bryce Cartwright, Jack Bird and Tom Trbojevic their first green and gold jerseys and Boyd Cordner to be included in the 24-man squad.
While Johns said changes for the sake of it should be resisted, he said the Four Nations in England represented an ideal chance to give some young players their first chance.
“Jack Bird could be thereabouts with his versatility, I love Bryce Cartwright because he gives you a point of difference with his offloads,” said Johns on the Nine Network’s Sunday Footy Show.
“Anthony Milford is a superstar of the future and a superstar now.
“Dylan Napa, I think he’ll be thereabouts in the front row. He’s what you need in a front-rower, nice and mad.”
For Napa and Milford, their selections would represent a return from the representative wilderness, after being blacklisted from this year’s Queensland team for breaking curfew during an Emerging Maroons camp.
Despite blooding Semi Radradra, Josh McGuire, Michael Morgan and Blake Ferguson against the Kiwis, the Australians were dubbed “Dad’s Army” because they had seven players in their line up aged 30 or over.
Gould’s criticism prompted a passionate response from Meninga, saying the former NSW coach and commentator didn’t understand the match because he had never played Test football.
Brisbane great and Australian selector Darren Lockyer said he expected Meninga to use the Four Nations to begin the the process of regeneration.
“At the end of the year (Meninga) gets to pick 24. I think he’d have one eye on the future there and wants to blood a few players,” Lockyer said.
“But in this particular game, on the back of losing the last three games, Mal was pretty keen to have a team that had experience but also some younger people. There were four debutants.”