Dally M medallist Nicho Hynes and Clive Churchill medallist Dylan Edwards have been surprisingly omitted from Australia’s Rugby League World Cup squad.
After a stunning performance in Penrith’s Grand Final triumph on Sunday, Edwards was considered a potential late bolter for the Kangaroos squad.
However, his superb display at Accor Stadium against Parramatta wasn’t enough to convince coach Mal Meninga and national selectors Laurie Daley and Darren Lockyer that he deserved a World Cup spot.
Hynes also missed out on a place in the Kangaroos 24-man squad, which ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys announced on Monday morning.
Meninga conceded leaving Edwards out of the squad had been a difficult decision.
‘He has had an exceptional year,’ he said.
‘It is a difficult situation when you can only pick 24 players. Our best player was the fullback in James Tedesco. We had several conversations about this. Unfortunately in this instance Dylan misses out.
‘He is our premier player. I thought he was the outstanding candidates. It was a pretty easy one.’
Meninga, meanwhile, confirmed James Tedesco will be Australia’s new captain at the tournament, which kicks off in England in two weeks.
The Roosters fullback replaces Boyd Cordner, who was skipper for the Kangaroos’ last Test in 2019.
‘Given the opportunity to captain and led the whole country, I don’t think there is a higher honour in the game,’ the Roosters captain said.
‘I am really proud of myself.’
South Sydney forward Cameron Murray will be Australia’s vice-captain.
There are 13 debutants in Meninga’s squad, who begin their World Cup defence in Leeds against Fiji on October 15.
Among them is premiership-winning Penrith captain Nathan Cleary, who will jostle with Daly Cherry-Evans to wear the No. 7 jersey.
Cleary enjoyed an outstanding season for the Panthers, but Meninga insisted he would ‘consider all options’ as far as the halfback role was concerned.
‘Daly is the incumbent as well. He was there three years ago and had a very good season, particularly Origin.
‘We will consider all options. That is what the tour is all about. everyone has the opportunity to prove that they deserve to be there at the back end of the tour.
In the hotly-contested battle for the No. 9 roles on tour, Rabbitohs hooker Damien Cook has missed out on the 24-man squad but will remain on standby.
Meninga has banked on Queensland’s winning State of Origin formula with Maroons duo Ben Hunt and debutant Harry Grant set to rotate the hooking role as the Kangaroos seek a third-straight World Cup title.
Cook, Hynes and Edwards are three players on standby.