Starting to Gel
The boyhood dreams of five Kangaroos' players are set to come true on Saturday, with five Test debutants named by Tim Sheens to face New Zealand in the Four Nations tournament opener.
Tim Sheens put his young side through their paces at the Broncos' Red Hill headquarters on Tuesday morning with the mix of old and new faces combining sharply over the course of the 90-minute session.
Sheens has named three new faces in the backline in Daniel Tupou, Dylan Walker and Josh Mansour; all featured prominently in Tuesday's training drills.
Tupou is expected to combine with Roosters teammate Michael Jennings on the left edge with rookies Walker and Mansour teaming up on the right.
Forwards Aaron Woods and Aidan Guerra will also make their debuts in the Australian pack with Woods to start at prop and Guerra preferred over clubmate and Kangaroos 18th man Boyd Cordner on the bench.
Daly Cherry-Evans and Cooper Cronk make up Sheens' first-choice halves combination and Greg Inglis will wear Billy Slater's No.1 jersey, with the Rabbitohs fullback liking what he sees in Australia's new-look side.
"The combinations are working really well. The young guys are fitting in really well and it's good having some leaders around them as well," Inglis said.
"I think they bring a lot of enthusiasm into the side which is a plus for us."
One man Inglis is looking forward to seeing in a Kangaroos jersey is Rabbitohs teammate Dylan Walker, who has impressed the 2013 Dally M Fullback of the Year during training.
"He brings that unknown x-factor to the team. Dylan is one of those excitement machines that can turn up anywhere and in any place, so he's just of those kids who love being out there playing football. He thoroughly deserves his spot in the side and he's really enjoying camp," he said.
"He can fit in anywhere. You can put him in wing, centre or five-eighth and he did a critical job for us when Luke Keary was out for [the Rabbitohs] earlier in the year. "
Inglis again refused to rule out whether he was considering a change of sporting code in the near future when pressed on the issue, although the veteran of 29 Tests had more immediate concerns as he looks to cement his spot as the undisputed Australian No.1.
"It's something I've been striving for but it's hard when Billy Slater is in that No.1 jersey. I'm just going to embrace my opportunity and hopefully hold onto it," the 2007 Clive Churchill medallist said.
"First thing about me is that I've got age on my side – Billy's in his thirties (Slater is currently 31) and I'm only 27. At this point in time he would've been picked at No.1 if he didn't pull out with injury, so it'll all unfold as the years go on.
"At the end of the day I'm just happy to be in this Aussie side no matter what number jersey it is."
This article was first published on nrl.com