There's more green than there is gold, but Australian coach Tim Sheens says he was both excited and nervous to read the names of 10 debutants** in his 24-man Four Nations squad on Tuesday.
Even rugby league guru David Middleton had trouble remembering the last time the Kangaroos had as many debutants, making this year's squad easily the most inexperienced in the Sheens era.
"[I'm] more excited by it. Obviously as a coach, there's certainly some concern. But I wouldn't say I'm nervous, no. We hold the trophy and now we've got to defend it," he said at Rugby League Central.
"If I am nervous, it's about getting the combinations together quickly given we've formed a number of combinations, not just experienced players, over a six year period that we've been together.
"When you start talking about your edge defence and people who haven't played with one another, that's a bit of a problem. So we have to factor that in as well.
"So that'll be the main focus for our first few training sessions, to get together on the same page defensively. That's the only nervousness, not so much winning the game. There's enough talent in that group to worry New Zealand and England and Samoa for sure."
South Sydney premiership-winning pair Dylan Walker and Alex Johnston were both rewarded for their stunning rise in the NRL, as were Canterbury's grand final duo Josh Jackson and David Klemmer.
Sydney Roosters' State of Origin representatives in Aidan Guerra and Daniel Tupou, together with Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods, will also get their first taste in the international arena.
And rounding out the lengthy list of uncapped talents were Brisbane halfback Ben Hunt and Penrith wingman Josh Mansour, while Newcastle's 18-year-old bolter Sione Mata'utia will be the youngest ever Australian player should he feature at any point in the tournament.
Sheens said Mata'utia, who scored seven tries in seven games for the Knights, had earned his selection with a strong performance for the Prime Minister's XIII against the Kumuls last Sunday.
Asked how many of the players had forced their way into the squad after the annual encounter in Papua New Guinea, he said: "I think young Sione would be one of those players. Josh Mansour certainly convinced me, so there'll be at least a couple of them.
"That happened last year too. Corey Parker last year, although Corey had already had a game for Australia, he convinced me that he was ready to walk into the starting side.
"I think it was more physical this year than last year with the Hunter background there and a 22-man unlimited interchange.
"They certainly poured out the big boys on us and our boys had to stand their ground. There was a lot of character shown, not only the younger ones, the senior boys played well too."
Sheens, who is now in his fifth year as national coach, also pointed to New Zealand's vastly inexperienced side that had a stronger showing than many predicted against the Kangaroos in the mid-year Test.
"Look, I'm very, very confident in this group. I know the senior players will rise to the occasion and the younger players will add enthusiasm to the squad big time," he said.
"If you looked at the Kiwi side that played us earlier this year, everyone [thought] they couldn't possibly handle the Australian team but for 60 minutes we were in all sorts of trouble so it is amazing what young, fresh players can do for a side.
"I see it reinvigorating the squad. It is an opportunity for a lot of them to show what they can do across the tournament with plenty of senior guys returning to the squad next year but it is an opportunity for these guys to shine... which will strengthen the broader base of the Australian side over the next few years."
The Kangaroos open the Four Nations tournament against New Zealand as part of a double-header including England v Samoa at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on October 25.
**Ten debutants became 11 on Wednesday when Penrith fullback Matt Moylan was called into the squad to replace Jarryd Hayne following his departure from the NRL
Player (NRL Club/Junior Club)
Greg Bird (Gold Coast Titans/West Maitland Red Dogs/ Maitland Pumpkin Pickers)
Daly Cherry-Evans (Manly Warringah Sea Eagles/Mackay Brothers)
Boyd Cordner (Sydney Roosters/Old Bar Pirates)
Cooper Cronk (Melbourne Storm/Souths Acacia)
Robbie Farah (Wests Tigers/Enfield Federals/Leichhardt Wanderers)
Aidan Guerra (Sydney Roosters/Townsville Brothers)
Jarryd Hayne** (Parramatta Eels/East Campbelltown Eagles/Cabramatta)
Ryan Hoffman (Melbourne Storm/Campbelltown Collegians)
Ben Hunt Brisbane (Broncos/Blackwater Crushers)
Greg Inglis (South Sydney Rabbitohs/Bowraville Tigers)
Josh Jackson (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs/Gulgong Terriers/Mudgee Dragons)
Michael Jennings (Sydney Roosters/St Marys/West City Tigers)
Alex Johnston (South Sydney Rabbitohs/La Perouse Panthers)
David Klemmer (Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs/All Saints)
Josh Mansour (Penrith Panthers/St Johns/Kingsgrove Colts)
Sione Mata’utia (Newcastle Knights/Raymond Terrace/South Newcastle)
Josh Papalii (Canberra Raiders/Logan Brothers)
Corey Parker (Brisbane Broncos/Logan Brothers)
Beau Scott (Newcastle Knights/Picton Magpies)
Cameron Smith (c) (Melbourne Storm/Logan Brothers)
Sam Thaiday (Brisbane Broncos/Townsville Brothers)
Daniel Tupou (Sydney Roosters/Berala Bears/Guildford Owls)
Dylan Walker (South Sydney Rabbitohs/Mascot Jets)
Aaron Woods (Wests Tigers/Leichhardt Juniors)
**Matt Moylan (Penrith Panthers) has been called up to replace Jarryd Hayne.