Australian selectors have confirmed the Kangaroos Origin Merit Team based on performances through the Holden State of Origin series.
Josh Papalii and Jack Wighton have both been selected after a wonderful Origin series from both players.
The selectors have named 11 players from the series victors NSW and six from Queensland, for the traditional Kangaroos Origin Merit Team.
The squad includes four players who are yet to debut for the Kangaroos – Canberra’s Jack Wighton (NSW), Melbourne’s Josh Addo-Carr (NSW), St George Illawarra’s Paul Vaughan (NSW) and South Sydney’s Cameron Murray (NSW).
“This is an exceptional squad whichever way you look at it,” Kangaroos Coach Mal Meninga said.
“The Origin series was closely fought. Ultimately the Blues prevailed and they deserved to make up a significant proportion of the squad.
“But there were a number of Queensland players who were clear standouts in their positions.
“If a squad was selected for a Test match today it might contain other players based on our overall selection policy.
“But this squad recognizes the form of the Origin players in the series, and provides an important acknowledgement of where they stand in the Kangaroos reckoning.”
The selectors work to criteria whereby, to be eligible for selection in the squad, a player must have played two out of the three matches in the series. Players could be selected out of the positions they played in during the series.
The Kangaroos play matches against the New Zealand Kiwis (October 25) at WIN Stadium, and Tonga (November 2) at Eden Park, Auckland.
The Kangaroos will also take part in the Downer Rugby League World Cup 9s on October 18-19.
“This is an important year for us as we continue the preparations for a tour of the northern hemisphere in 2020, followed by a World Cup in 2021,” Meninga said.
“The Kangaroos Origin Merit Squad shows the sort of talent we will have at our disposal over the next few years.
“While the selection in the Merit Squad will form part of the criteria for our end-of-year matches, the selectors will also look at other aspects, including club form, particularly in the Finals Series and the Grand Final, as well as the values and behaviours that we are always looking for.”
The 2019 Kangaroos Origin Merit Team is: