Australia under fire over 'atrocious' move at Rugby League World Cup

Mal Meninga and the Kangaroos team, pictured here at the Rugby League World Cup.
Mal Meninga named his Kangaroos team to play Italy at the Rugby League World Cup in alphabetical order. Image: Getty

The Kangaroos have been savaged by fans at the Rugby League World Cup after naming their side for this weekend's clash with Italy in alphabetical order on Friday.

Mal Meninga named a 19-man squad for Sunday morning's clash with the Italians in St Helens, however it was named in alphabetical order rather than by positions.

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The decision to deviate from announcing the team by position could be interpreted as hesitancy from Meninga in anointing either Nathan Cleary or Daly Cherry-Evans as his first-choice halfback.

Cherry-Evans got the nod for Australia's first game against Fiji, before Cleary started and starred against Scotland in their second game.

Meninga has made the staggering call to start both Cleary and Cherry-Evans against Italy, with five-eighth Cameron Munster getting a rest ahead of the quarter-finals.

Whatever the reason for the alphabetical team list, it certainly didn't go down well with fans.

With team lists already confusing enough due to the new numbering system that also doesn't go by positions, fans expressed their frustrations on social media.

One fan labelled the list 'atrocious', while another said it was a 'joke'.

Cleary and Cherry-Evans are aware a decision is looming over which of them will be the halfback of choice come the knockout stages.

"Mal's made clear from the get-go not everyone's going to get to play throughout the whole tournament," Cherry-Evans said.

"Pretty soon he's going to have to make some really big decisions and it's going to be hard.

"People are going to miss out, not because they're playing bad but because Mal's just got to make decisions as coach."

For Cleary and Cherry-Evans, who have tasted glory at club and State of Origin level respectively this NRL season, the final pool fixture represents a chance to make a lasting impression.

"We're going to mix it up a bit," Cleary said.

"We'll just see how it's going and who's got the flow at the time.

"Daly is so good I can float around and work off him. It's something new for both of us.

"I'm actually not sure (who is the halfback and five-eighth). I wear No.14 and he wears No.2. The idea for us is that we're wanting to work together as much as we can."

Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster, pictured here in action for Australia at the Rugby League World Cup.
Nathan Cleary and Cameron Munster in action for Australia at the Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images) (Michael Steele via Getty Images)

James Tedesco resists chance to rest to play Italy

Along with Munster, Harry Grant and Angus Crichton will also sit out of the match against Italy, while James Tedesco is listed in the 19-man squad to play against the nation he represented at the 2013 and 2017 world Cups.

Tedesco was offered the chance to rest by Meninga, but said it was an easy choice for him to play.

"It's pretty special for my family back home to see me play in the Australian colours against Italy," said Tedesco, whose family come form Calabria.

"I only played 45 minutes (against Scotland). There's only a limited number of times you can represent Australia and I've only done it a couple of times.

"I was keen to represent and build those combinations for the finals."

Josh Addo-Carr, Mal Meninga and James Tedesco, pictured here speaking to the media at the Rugby League World Cup.
Josh Addo-Carr, Mal Meninga and James Tedesco speak to the media at the Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images for RLWC) (Alex Livesey via Getty Images)

Tedesco credited his time with the Italian side in the 2013 tournament as a springboard for a career which is only missing a World Cup from his trophy-laden resume.

"I had played about 20 first grade games before that (tournament)," he said.

"In 2012 I had done my ACL and in 2013 I was still scrapping around and not that confident.

"After that World Cup campaign, I got my confidence. It was a great start to my international career.

"I was in the centres and Mini (Anthony Minichiello) was the captain and fullback and I learned a lot from being around him and how he conducted himself."

with AAP

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