DCE not Cleary must be Aussie No. 7: Johns

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Andrew Johns has called for Daly Cherry-Evans to be named ahead of Nathan Cleary as Kangaroos halfback for the Rugby League World Cup.

Australia will end its exile from the international game on Sunday, September 25 with a Prime Minister's XIII game against Papua New Guinea at Suncorp Stadium.

The squad for that game is expected to be announced as early as Friday.

Australia haven't played a Test since their 2019 loss to Tonga and in that time Penrith playmaker Cleary has arguably become the most consistent halfback across week-to-week NRL action.

Cleary, along with other players involved in the finals series, won't be selected for the PM's XIII game but it's understood the likes of Wests Tigers trio Luke Garner, Jake Simpkin and Daine Laurie, and Sydney Roosters forward Angus Crichton will feature.

Johns, however, said the performance of Cherry-Evans in State of Origin for Queensland meant he deserved to wear the No.7 jersey in Mal Meninga's side, even though his Manly side failed to make the finals.

"I think Daly Cherry-Evans deserves to be the halfback after his Origin series," Johns told the Nine Network.

"Before Origin I thought Nathan would be, but if you're looking at Origin in particular, I think Daly deserves to be halfback and captain.

"Daly is the incumbent (and) we haven't played for a couple of years."

The PM's XIII game will be Australia's sole warm-up game prior to the Rugby League World Cup in England next month.

The Kangaroos, who will be based in Manchester, are in a group which contains Fiji, Scotland and Italy.