In the final pool game against Italy, Cherry-Evans and Cleary will share playing duties, either as a pair or at midfield each.
Meningo has hinted at continuing to tinker with his preferred squad for a likely quarter-final showdown with Lebanon, although the bulk of the trial and error ahead (not that there’s any yet) will be sorted this time next week.
Isa Yeo is a one-on-one and Cameron Murray looms as right back rower, just as Brad Fittler balances out the pair for New South Wales, with Harry Grant and Ben Hunt doing well as dual dummy halves.
Tina Fa’asuamaleaui looks the only prop and with big men from New Zealand and Tonga on their mind, Reagan Campbell-Gillard’s 115kg could well put him in one of the early roles with Lindsay Collins and Patrick Kerrigan (106kg ), Jake Trboevich (107 kg) and pocket rocket Ruben Kotter (95 kg) are other options.
Each one is different, but two are likely to be missed. Collins is your classic bash and barge, Trbojevic is a go-between, Kerrigan is a mix of both, and Cotter is a rare beast in his own right.
With the ability to hit 10km and 80 minutes in the middle – as he did this year when the Cowboys played Parramatta, in Darwin no less – Cotter’s foot speed and enthusiasm have been used admirably in battle by Todd Patten all year and Billy Slater in Origin I.
A hamstring injury ruled Cotter out of the rest of Queensland’s campaign, but he, Kerrigan and Collins in particular turned the tide in that series opener against a bigger NSW side.
As another option, Angus Crichton’s ability to switch from left back to center has served the Blues well in the past.
A traditional bench breakdown would see Liam Martin outclass Jeremiah Nanai in terms of experience and be only slightly wild.
Meninga has plenty of options, if not the size to match the Kiwi and Tongan packages expected in the coming weeks. But then again, he might not need to.
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