Test rookies Valentine Holmes, Shannon Boyd and Tyson Frizell will bring a new energetic edge to the Kangaroos, coach Mal Meninga says.
Holmes, Boyd and Frizell on Friday were named to make their Australian debuts in Saturday’s international against New Zealand at Perth’s nib Stadium.
The selections continue a transformation of the Australian team under Meninga after his choice of four debutants in May for his first Test in charge of the Kangaroos.
“Shannon, Tyson and Valentine have all added a new dimension to our team with their enthusiasm and excitement,” Meninga said on Friday.
“We have a big Kiwis pack, we will be out to match that and big Boydy is a big part of that.
“Tyson Frizell had a great year, he had an outstanding State of Origin series, played well in the Prime Minister’s game and deserves his opportunity – while Valentine had a great year for Cronulla.”
Meninga said the rookies were excited and shocked by their call-up particularly St George Illawarra star Frizell.
“Tyson couldn’t get any words out. He was smiling from ear to ear.
“It is an exciting time for them. They are playing with some exceptionally talented players. They will be nervous. They have to make that first run, that first tackle and it is just a game of footy.
“This will be a great challenge for this team.
“The Kiwis have picked a very strong squad themselves.
“It will be great to see how some of our younger players fare against such an opponent.”
Boyd will be charged with helping to win the ruck battle against the monster forward pack named by Kiwis coach David Kidwell in his first game at the helm since taking over four weeks ago from new Warriors coach Stephen Kearney.
“New Zealand are a very formidable footy side,” Meninga said.
“Their terrific pack is one of their best assets.
“If they can give (halfback) Shaun Johnson some space, he will take it.
“It is great for international rugby league that we can have contests like this.”
Described by Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith as one of New Zealand’s most-passionate representatives. Kidwell has had precious little time to shape his side.
“I am pretty relaxed at the moment but ask me the same question tomorrow night – it might be something different, ” he said.
“It is great that we get to showcase the game over here for the first time. That is something special that we are all looking forward to.”