MAL MENINGA has picked four debutants in his Australian side to face France in Canberra on Friday.
It will be a week of mixed emotions for the Trbojevic family, as Tom Trbojevic has been named on the wing and will make his Kangaroos debut in a week in which his older brother, Jake, suffered a World Cup-ending pectoral tear.
Reagan Campbell-Gillard – who wasn’t even in the squad until Andrew Fifita’s high profile defection to play for Tonga – is the other debutant in the starting XIII, with Melbourne stars Felice Kaufusi and Cameron Munster due to make their international bows from the bench.
Josh Mansour and James Maloney are the final changes as Cooper Cronk, Boyd Cordner, Matt Gillett, Dane Gagai and Valentine Holmes are all given a rest.
Meninga was effusive in his praise of Trbojevic. “He’s a great athlete with great footy sense,” said the Kangaroos coach.
“He obviously grew up with rugby league and he plays that backyard-style rugby league. He’s got great skill and vision and is a big unit. He’s a danger every time he touches the football.”
“And as he matures, because he knows rugby league really well too, so he will be a leader at any club he plays for and certainly a leader at this level. He’s certainly a superstar of the making.”
France coach Aurelien Cologni has made several key changes after their 29-18 defeat to Lebanon in their opening game.
William Barthau, Lucas Albert, Damien Cardace, Antoni Maria, Nabil Djalout, Lambert Belmas and Clement Boyer all drop out, with John Boudebza, Olivier Arnaud, Remy Marginet, Maxime Herold, Mickael Rouch and Romaine Navarette coming in.