Kangaroos hopefuls are out to make the most of what could be a final chance to force their way into Tim Sheens’ first-choice Rugby League World Cup team in Saturday’s clash with Ireland.
Australia are expected to steamroll the Irish in Limerick but there promises to be plenty of internal competitiveness in the tournament favourites’ final group game.
Sheens is again likely to experiment with his squad, as he did against Fiji last week, but has indicated he will stick with what he views as his best 17 from the quarter-finals onwards.
The Kangaroos coach has made it clear to each of his players where they stand and the onus is on them to prove they should feature in the big games to come.
“The ball is in our court and Sheensy has been honest with everyone,” said tough forward Nate Myles, one of the players trying to force their way into the top side.
“As a player, you’ve got to try your best and do enough to convince Tim to pick you at the end.
“He’s made that clear to all the players and that’s the way it should be.
“I don’t think anyone should be getting through on namesake.
“It’s important that it’s competitive and we take that into training and every game.”
Queensland forward Myles missed selection in Australia’s opening win over England but made an impressive contribution against Fiji with 49 tackles and 11 hit-ups.
An injury to Luke Lewis has boosted his hopes of a spot on the interchange bench in the finals, but he’ll likely need a big performance against Ireland to force a way in.
Rookies Boyd Cordner and Josh Papalii are likely vying for the same spot in the team and could both get more game time this week after impressive debuts against Fiji in St Helens.
Other key battles are between Daly Cherry-Evans and Robbie Farah for a bench utility role while Brent Tate, Michael Jennings and Josh Morris are vying for the right centre spot.
Ireland have conceded 74 points in opening losses to Fiji and England, but Myles said there would be no complacency from the Kangaroos.
“We’ve got to approach it like we do every game,” Myles said.
“Because we’re here for a reason; to win every game and improve as a side and try and get the best side out there.
Australia’s squad has been reduced to 23 players after their request to call in a replacement for injured backrower Lewis was denied by tournament officials on Tuesday.
Sheens’ side will return to training in Dublin on Wednesday after players were given the start of the week off.