Nathan Cleary stuns in 'ridiculous' display at Rugby League World Cup

Nathan Cleary, pictured here in action for Australia against Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup.
Nathan Cleary starred as Australia thrashed Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup. Image: Fox Sports/Getty

Nathan Cleary has sent a message to Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga after a masterful display in Australia's 84-0 thrashing of Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup on Friday.

The Penrith Panthers star emphasised his credentials to become Meninga's first-choice halfback after scoring 28 points on debut in Coventry.

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Cleary was one of six debutants named by Meninga for Friday's match, and he wasted little time making an impact as the Kangaroos put Scotland to the sword.

Watched by his father Ivan, the Penrith playmaker kicked 12 goals from 15 attempts, had three try assists and scored a try of his own.

He fell just short of Andrew Johns' Kangaroos record of points for a debutant (30 v South Africa, 1995) as Scotland were torn to pieces from the first minute to the last in front of a rain-soaked crowd of 10,276 at Coventry Building Society Arena.

Still, his performance was not enough to be named man of the match, with winger Josh Addo-Carr receiving the award for a four-try haul in a victory which was Australia's second-biggest ever at a World Cup.

Nevertheless, Cleary still staked his claim to be the first-choice halfback going forward, with Daly Cherry-Evans preferred by Meninga in Australia's first-up victory over Fiji.

Cleary's dominant display - admittedly against a Scotland side with just a handful of full-time professionals - will give Meninga something to consider ahead of next week's final group stage game with Italy.

Cherry-Evans and Cleary are likely to line up in the halves together in a dead rubber against the Italians after Australia inflicted a record defeat on the Scots.

Scotland are a long way from the side that clinched a draw with New Zealand in the 2016 Four Nations and the Bravehearts needed to be perfect to have any chance of troubling the Kangaroos.

But they struggled so badly they had just one play-the-ball in Australia's 20-metre zone across the 80 minutes.

Nathan Cleary, pictured here in action for Australia against Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup.
Nathan Cleary in action for Australia against Scotland at the Rugby League World Cup. (Photo by Naomi Baker/Getty Images) (Naomi Baker via Getty Images)

Fans react to 'ridiculous' Nathan Cleary display

They made an error off the opening kick-off and Australia hit their straps immediately with Cleary sending Addo-Carr and Jack Wighton over inside the opening 10 minutes.

Campbell Graham, who scored a hat-trick against a Bravehearts side he nearly played for at this World Cup, chimed in on the other flank with Angus Crichton and Cleary crossing to give the Kangaroos a 40-0 lead at the half-time break.

Captain James Tedesco jinked his way over just 50 seconds into the second half and when Ben Hunt crossed in the 45th minute, Meninga gave his skipper an early mark for Valentine Holmes.

Ben Hunt, Isaah Yeo and Matt Burton also contributed to Scotland's misery after Kane Linnett was sin-binned for a professional foul.

In the final minute a Holmes error gave Scotland a gilt-edged chance to have a crack at the Australian line but they failed to even threaten.

with AAP

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