Emotional Presentation For Roos Rookies
Former Australian halfback Brett Kimmorley presented the three Kangaroos debutants with their jerseys on Thursday night in an emotional gathering in Melbourne.
Australian coach Mal Meninga asked Kimmorley to address the players at a special team presentation on the eve of Friday night's World Cup opener against England at AAMI Park.
Kimmorley reflected on the first of his 20 Tests for the Kangaroos in 1999, one of just three losses he endured in the green and gold.
He passed on advice to Kangaroos rookies Wade Graham, Dane Gagai and Jordan McLean as they prepare to don the Australian jersey for the first time.
The event was extra special for Graham and Gagai, whose families travelled to Melbourne to watch the presentation at the team hotel.
"I was extremely honoured to be asked to present to the debutants in front of that awesome group of men," Kimmorley said.
"Mal is doing a wonderful job with the RISE concept. I thought the players were very respectful and made me feel comfortable in the room in their presence. I remember my Test debut and that for me was an honour. It was great to sing the anthem for the first time and wear your jersey as the symbol representing your family.
"It was a great career highlight for me the first and last time singing that anthem in the green and gold.
"That first time was a great way of celebrating my family and mentioning your parents and the contribution they made to your career. I actually said to Jordan he's done exactly what I did. He won a premiership and will make his Test debut in the same year. It's quite an achievement and to be able to do that in the best club side I've ever seen, it’s special."
Former Kangaroos fullback Gary Belcher was also part of the celebrations, presenting Billy Slater with his milestone jersey in recognition of playing more than 20 Tests.
The clash with England will be Slater's first Test in three years and his first match under Meninga, who introduced a system which recognises players after they reach milestones from their 20th Test and every 10 matches thereafter.
Slater will be lining up for his 26th Test on Friday night and Meninga wanted to pay tribute to the Storm veteran's achievements as he made his return to the international arena following a series of shoulder injuries.