Meninga selects impressive Australia squad for World Cup

Drew Darbyshire

Mal Meninga has selected seven players from NRL Premiers Melbourne Storm to represent Australia at the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

Back-rower Felise Kaufusi is one of six rookies in the 24-man squad while Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Munster, Jordan McLean and Will Chambers are the other Storm players selected.

Rugby League legened Slater is expected to start at full-back and winning the Clive Churchill medal in Melbourne Storm’s Grand Final victory over the North Queensland Cowboys.

Sydney Roosters full-back and the National Rugby League Player of the Year James Tedesco has not been selected and will therefore play for Italy due to family heritage.

Blake Ferguson has also not been selected, with Maninga deciding to go with Queensland’s State of Origin Player of the Series Dane Gagai instead.

Australia are the favourites to win the competition but New South Wales’ origin star Andrew Fifta opted out of the squad late on in order to play for Tonga.

As a result of the drop-out, Penrith Panthers’ Reagan Campbell-Gillard has come into the Kangaroos side.

His Panthers teammate, Josh Masnour, also comes into the squad late, replacing the injured Darius Boyd.

Australia 24-man squad: Billy Slater, Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk, Cameron Munster, Felise Kaufusi, Jordan McLean, Will Chambers (Melbourne Storm), Ben Hunt, Matt Gillett (Brisbane Broncos), Jake Trbojevic, Tom Trbojevic (Manly Sea Eagles), Josh Dugan, Tyson Frizell (St George Illawarra Dragons), James Maloney, Valentine Holmes, Wade Graham (Cronulla Sharks), Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters), Michael Morgan (North Queensland Cowboys), Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers), David Klemmer (Canterbury Bulldogs), Josh Mansour, Reagan Campbell-Gillard (Penrith Panthers).