Australian selector Laurie Daley has confirmed that Mal Meninga has dropped Daly Cherry-Evans for the semi-final blockbuster against New Zealand at the Rugby League World Cup.
The Kangaroos have waltzed their way into the last four with ease but the game with the Kiwis at Elland Road on Friday (Saturday AEDT) represents their first challenge of the tournament.
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And despite cruising, the selection controversy heading into the World Cup surrounded the halfback role.
Heading into the Lebanon clash, Nathan Cleary appeared to win the race after being selected as the halfback while Cherry-Evans appeared off the bench.
And with Ben hunt returning after being rested, selector Daley has confirmed to the Big Sports Breakfast that Cherry-Evans will be dropped from the 17-man line-up for the pivotal clash against New Zealand.
This means Maroons hooker Harry Grant will take Cherry-Evans' spot on the bench as the specialist hooker.
Meninga is weary of New Zealand's huge forward pack and is looking to fight fire with fire.
The coach previously alluded to this tactic and suggested he could pick an all-forward bench ahead of the New Zealand showdown.
Hunt & RCG both training today in a group of 13 that looks very much like it’ll be the Kangaroos starting side against NZ. Appears Grant and Tino moved to bench with DCE dropping out. #RLWC2021
— Eamonn Tiernan (@Eamonn_Tiernan) November 8, 2022
New Zealand confident ahead of Australia showdown
Meninga's team selections reflects New Zealand winger Jordan Rapana's confidence in his team's dominant forward pack.
Every forward in the Kiwis squad played in the NRL finals series with the likes of James Fisher-Harris, Joe Tapine, Jared Waerea-Hargreaves and Nelson Asofa-Solomona among them.
Waerea-Hargreaves is eligible to play after serving a suspension.
And Roosters teammate Angus Crichton said that if he is selected, which he is expected to be alongside Liam Martin, he won't need to tempt his club teammate to rise to the occasion.
Crichton will also have to deal with rampaging Storm forward Nelson Asofa-Solomona.
The towering forward has been shifted to an edge, pitting him against his Melbourne teammate and influential Australian five-eighth Cameron Munster.
It will be Crichton's job to keep all of the 200cm and 130kg of Asofa-Solomona in check and act as Munster's bodyguard.
"I love it, I'm excited for Nelson," Crichton said.
"We've seen how much of a beast he can be and the damage he can do.
"He's a big threat, it's my job to nullify that.
"I think he's dangerous whether that's through the middle or on the right edge but I'm keen to lock horns with him."
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