Despite Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens’ succession plan call, selector Des Morris says new blood should not be injected for the sake of it ahead of next week’s trans-Tasman rugby league Test in Brisbane.
Arguably the oldest Kangaroos team in history is expected to be named on Sunday night ahead of the May 1 clash with New Zealand, even with Cronulla confirming on Friday that veteran Test forward Paul Gallen (hip) was indefinitely sidelined.
Up to 10 players in the 30-year plus category are set to be unveiled in the Kangaroos’ 17, prompting Sheens to admit this week they must plan for what he described would be dramatic changes to the team within the next two years.
Sheens even hinted at a bolter being named this weekend, despite up to 30 players – who had unavailable due to injury for the 2014 Four Nations campaign – putting their hands up for next Friday’s clash that will decide the world’s No.1 rugby league ranking.
The likes of Cronulla’s Jack Bird and Valentine Holmes were thrown out as potential shock call-ups amid Sheens’ claim that big changes loomed for the Kangaroos in the next two years.
While Test selector Morris was not about undermining Sheens, he said if their veterans were good enough, they should keep the faith.
“You can’t make change for change’s sake,” he told AAP.
“From my point of view, you have to earn the right to play for Australia.
“You shouldn’t be picked just because you might be a good player in a few years’ time.
“I am a bit old school and I think we should pick the best players.”
Sheens claimed this week selectors had already discussed a succession plan for the 2017 World Cup.
“We are going to need to do something about bringing new blood into this side,” Sheens told Fox Sports.
“Most players will play until they drop – sometimes, you have to tell them when it’s time.
“The next two years, there’s going to be some big changes”.
But Morris defended the old guard on Friday.
“You have to realise that players are playing a lot longer now,” he said.
“Thirty is the new 25. Thirty-year-old players playing Tests was once a rarity where now it is more commonplace.
“You have a number of legends there who are still performing and want to be in the side.
“I think it is important to inject new blood but only when they are proving to be better players.
“However, we always have an eye on the future – it’s an exciting time for Australia.”
Gallen’s unavailability is expected to throw a lifeline to incumbent Test forward Josh Papalii.
Brisbane centre Justin Hodges has been granted a last-gasp Test audition after overcoming a hamstring complaint to run out on Saturday night against Parramatta in Brisbane.