Manly forward Jake Trbojevic is in line for a shock Test debut after being drafted into the Kangaroos squad for the injured Josh Papalii.
Canberra’s Papalii was ruled out of Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Perth and Australia’s Four Nations campaign due to an ongoing ankle injury.
Papalii carried the injury into Kangaroos camp and after struggling to train this week, the decision was made to replace him in the 24-man squad.
With Wests Tigers forward Aaron Woods absent due to his marriage, Kangaroos starting prop Matt Scott said Trbojevic could make international debut against the Kiwis at nib Stadium after being brought into the Australian squad on Thursday.
“He is a definite chance of playing,” Scott said in Perth.
“We are very disappointed for Josh. He has been in great form this year and it is sad to see him leave the camp.
“But Jake is a great addition to the group.
“I am looking forward to spending a few weeks with him and hopefully playing alongside him.”
Papalli’s injury means Trbojevic could be a number of rookies alongside Shannon Boyd, Valentine Holmes and Tyson Frizell to make their Test debuts against New Zealand on Saturday.
The loss of Papalii is a blow to the Kangaroos who are faced with the task of stopping a massive Kiwi pack.
But Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga said 22-year-old Trbojevic, was a worthy addition to his squad.
“Jake will give us size and intimidation,” Meninga said.
“It is always disappointing to lose a player of Josh’s calibre but this will be a wonderful opportunity for Jake and I’m excited to see what he can do in the green and gold jersey.”
A Test debut would mark a remarkable rise for Trbojevic, who is yet to play State of Origin but is seen as a long term representative player of the future.
He has played 47 games for the Sea Eagles since 2013 and re-signed with the club last week until the end of the 2020 NRL season.