NRL News

Same expectations for Kangaroos: Meninga


(AAP Image/Darren England)

Mal Meninga has shrugged off the suggestion Australia are set to go through a rebuild, insisting there's no reason why their reign of domination shouldn't continue over the rugby league world.

The Kangaroos will be missing 231 games of Test experience through a mixture of representative retirement, injuries and suspension when they take on New Zealand at Mt Smart Stadium on Saturday.

Despite the departure of four potential future Immortals in Cameron Smith (56 Tests), Cooper Cronk (38), Johnathan Thurston (38) and Billy Slater (30), Meninga is refusing to see it as a new era.

Also absent from the side which won last year's World Cup final are Matt Gillett (12), Wade Graham (6) and Michael Morgan (12) while Greg Inglis (39) will miss the tour through suspension.

Australia's 17-man squad has a total of 106 Tests between them, making them the most inexperienced Kangaroos squad since 2003.

Saturday's Test against the Kiwis will be just the second time since 2006 that an Australian side hasn't included Smith.

Despite featuring four debutants in James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Luke Keary and Damien Cook, Meninga said there was no reason for their 13-game unbeaten streak to end.

"The expectations are the same," Meninga said.

"It's not because we've lost players, we've got new players stepping up. That's what our focus has been.

"It's the same expectations as anyone putting on the green and gold jersey in the 110-years of our history. We want to make sure we play really well and they come off the field happy with their performance."

The Kiwis are similarly without nine players from their World Cup quarter-final loss to Fiji, including skipper and Dally M winner Roger Tuivasa-Sheck.

Key players Issac Luke and Tohu Harris will be missing through injury as well.

Coach Michael Maguire, who faces the biggest test of his new reign, said he was refusing to buy into the Kangaroos invincible aura.

"A lot of that has to do with what we do, what we do when we go away from the field," Maguire said.

"That's the key to anything, it comes down to our preparation, our practice, the connections that we have.

"Our main goal at the moment is who we are. I've started on a journey with these boys and it's a real honour to be sitting in the seat."

© AAP 2018