Rookie Roos impressing old heads
Two of Australia's most decorated Test representatives have given their seal of approval to the next generation of Kangaroos with Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston both lauding the new faces in the Four Nations squad.
Shannon Boyd, Valentine Holmes and Tyson Frizell each made their Test debuts against New Zealand in Perth a fortnight ago and with coach Mal Meninga vowing to play every member of the 24-man squad more will pull on the green and gold for the first time this weekend against Scotland.
Matt Moylan, Justin O'Neill, Jake Friend, James Maloney and Jake Trbojevic are expected to feature in the Kangaroos line-up for the clash with the Bravehearts on Saturday as Meninga gives each player a chance to push for selection in the Tests to come against New Zealand and England.
Holmes, Frizell and Boyd were each impressive in the convincing win over the Kiwis in Perth and Kangaroos captain Cameron Smith singled out Panthers fullback Matt Moylan as someone he is particularly interested to see play for his country.
Moylan was a member of the 2014 Four Nations squad but didn't feature in any of the Tests, the wait for the 25-year-old Panthers skipper now just days away from coming to an end.
"A guy that I'm pretty keen to see play in the green and gold is Matty Moylan," said Smith, who will move to equal second alongside Meninga for most Tests for the Kangaroos when he plays his 46th game on Saturday.
"He was in our squad in 2014 and unfortunately didn't get a game but he's had another great season in the NRL.
"If he gets his opportunity I think he'll play well and hopefully put his hand up for a couple more games in this Four Nations tournament.
"I've been really impressed with the young guys on the tour so far.
"We had three debutants in Perth in the game against the Kiwis and they all played really well.
"Mal's spoken to the squad about the fact that everyone is getting the opportunity to play on this tour so we might see a few new faces against Scotland and I think they'll play well."
Johnathan Thurston will move into the top 10 of Kangaroo representatives of all time when he joins Bob Fulton and Keith Holman with 35 Tests during the Four Nations and has been similarly impressed by the new kids on the block.
With so many fresh faces cohesion could be an issue for the Kangaroos who will be playing in unfamiliar conditions but Thurston said the rookies proved in Perth that they can come into the side and not miss a beat.
"They've been pretty impressive at training already," said Thurston.
"We were very happy with the result [in Perth]. There are a lot of new faces in the squad and in the team so we hit the ground running with our continuity and we're looking to build on that over the next few weeks.
"Mal has picked a really strong squad and a lot of those younger boys will make their Test debut this weekend so it's an exciting time for them.
"They've fitted in really well, a lot of them have played in big matches already – grand finals or State of Origin – so they know what's required to play at the highest level."
Both Smith and Thurston spoke of their excitement at the prospect of playing the Four Nations final at Anfield – home of Liverpool FC – on November 20, the skipper particularly salivating at the thought of playing England in front of 60,000 fans at London's Olympic Stadium in the final round of pool matches.
"It takes you back to your childhood, watching the Kangaroos come over and play against the English sides and Great Britain as they were at the time," Smith recalled.
"I remember the big crowds, the chants, the songs that all the crowds sing and I really enjoy that type of atmosphere over here, particularly playing against England.
"They're the old enemy against Australia so a lot of tradition there and that's the way you want to play your rugby league, in front of big crowds in a big atmosphere in the big stadiums.
"From my point of view I'd love to be involved in the final; playing at Anfield is just a bonus.
"It's one of the better stadiums I've been to in my career so if we get here I'll be pretty excited to get out there in front of a big crowd."