By Todd Balym , AAP
Ruthless Australian coach Tim Sheens won't risk injured players as the Kangaroos fear another New Zealand surprise when they meet the world champions in their Four Nations opener on October 24.
Brisbane star Israel Folau was the first casualty of the cut-throat attitude to fitness, withdrawing from the team with an ankle injury and replaced by St George Illawarra's tryscoring winger Brett Morris.
Nathan Hindmarsh (shoulder), Brett White (shoulder) and Kurt Gidley (calf) are the other big concerns, the trio to prove their fitness when the Kangaroos enter camp next Tuesday or face the axe.
Sheens said with no replacements allowed once the tournament starts he can't afford any passengers in his 24-man squad.
"I can't interchange people over there, (so) if they can't play in the very first game (close to) 100 per cent fitness then we have to take someone else," said Sheens on Thursday.
Hindmarsh played the entire NRL finals series with painkillers, but Sheens won't allow it for the Kangaroo tour.
"I'm very loath to give needles to play," he said.
"He didn't play at all on the last tour because of a knee (injury).
"I've told him that come Tuesday we will have to make a call.
"I'm not keen to play anyone with a needle when we get there for game one."
White will meet a shoulder specialist on Friday, but is confident he will be right to play, while Gidley needs to regain full running speed with his calf strain on Tuesday or he too will be left behind.
"(Calf strains) can be dicey," said Sheens.
"He will have to train fully on Tuesday or he will be ruled out as well."
Folau said he was disappointed to miss his first Kangaroo Tour, but at the age of 20 he knows time is on his side to go overseas and add to his eight Test caps.
"It's disappointing but I've got time on my side for future Australian teams," said Folau.
"I think it's good for my ankle long-term (not to go) and it should be right for next season.
"I'm only 20 and I've got a long time in the game to achieve the goals that I want."
Skipper Darren Lockyer agreed about the importance of fit players for the tour, noting the Australians can't afford any slip ups in the four-week tournament.
While the Kiwis will play a trial against Tonga next week, Australia won't be tested until they meet New Zealand at Twickenham Stoop on October 24.
"I think it's important we hit the ground running. We have New Zealand straight up and with the nature of the competition we cannot afford to get off to a slow start," said Lockyer.
"New Zealand has always started a bit slow in the tournaments and gotten better as the tournament goes on.
"But for us ... that first game I think is pretty vital for us.
"They're going to have a bit better preparation than us, but knowing they've had a better preparation will make us focus that little bit extra.
"I think the World Cup last year will remind us you just have to be on your game every time you play.
"We have to work extremely hard if we're going to be successful over there."
Meanwhile Lockyer wouldn't confirm whether this would be his last stint at Test captain, with rumours circulating the Broncos champion would retire from representative football after the tournament.
"My focus is really on this tour, beyond that I haven't thought about it at all," he said.