Nathan Cleary appears to have cemented his place in midfield with a masterclass Australia thrashed Scotland 84-0 on Saturday.
Josh Addo-Carr made an emphatic statement with four tries as the Kangaroos clinched the quarter-finals, but there are still a few positions up for grabs.
Read on for key moments from Australia’s World Cup win over Scotland.
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Daley Cherry-Evans may never play for Australia again if Nathan Cleary delivers a masterclass against the Scots, Breit Anasta has warned.
Cleary held up his end of the bargain as the midfielder produced one of the most dominant performances in World Cup history.
In the debut match, the 24-year-old superstar scored 28 points, three assists, three tries and scored one.
Cleary is locked in a heated battle with veteran Cherry-Evans and coach Mal Meningo has given no indication of which way he is leaning towards the knockout pack.
But Damien Cook, who has played alongside both, believes Cleary’s performance means he should be selected alongside Cameron Munster in the halves.
“I like the Nets and Munster halves going into the quarter-finals,” Cook said on Fox League.
Cleary’s Masterclass in Kangaroo Debut! | 01:38
“You want to make sure you’re ready for the quarter-finals, so you need to play a little more time together.
“Maybe you keep Cherry-Evans on the bench and start those two again to get their combination right and if we do well against Italy you can bring one of them out.”
Anasta said Meningo “should” keep the halves combination until the end of the tournament, while Greg Alexander offered an alternative.
“What Mull might do is give Munster a rest against Italy and then bring him back at quarter-back and Cleary and Munster will still spend quite a bit of time in training working on their combinations,” he said.
FOX HAS THE LAST LAUGH
Revenge is a dish best served cold… or in the form of six tries in two matches for your country after being snubbed at state level.
Addo-Carr was a controversial exception to the New South Wales squad this year after playing in the previous four State of Origin series.
Addo-Carr has been overlooked by Blues coach Brad Fittler following his 2022 move from arch-rivals Melbourne to the struggling Bulldogs.
Addo-Carr has vowed to keep his head down to ensure he retains the Kangaroos jersey at the World Cup, with coach Mal Meningo stuck with his current winger.
The 27-year-old repaid the faith by scoring two tries against Fiji and followed that up with an incredible four-try haul against the Scots.
“When he’s in open space, there’s nobody better,” Breit Anasta said on Fox League.
Addo-Carr saved his best at the end when he chased down his own shot to head into the corner with just inches to spare.
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“It happened so fast I guess I just pulled it out of the hat, yeah, it was good,” Addo-Carr said on Fox League.
“When everyone is doing their job, it’s a lot easier for me, all I have to do is catch the ball and run fast.
“I love wearing this jersey and representing my family and the country we all love.
“There have been some great Kangaroos teams in the past and for us guys, we are a young team and now is our time together and we want to build our destiny in a Kangaroos jersey.
POSITIONS FOR CAPTURE
The battle is on to start at the knockout stage, while Mal Meningo has an embarrassing wealth at center.
Storm No.9 Harry Grant started against Scotland after Ben Hunt earned his first crack at the tackle against Fiji last week.
Grant played on the bench in the Kangaroos’ tournament opener, but the roles have been reversed this week.
Hunt replaced Grant after 34 minutes and scored three tries and scored one of his own.
“The introduction of Ben Hunt, he just adds a different dynamic to everything, what an exciting talent he is,” Ian Henderson said on Fox League.
“He’s there, he’s offering something else, if you want to break the game, drop him,” Jonathan Davis replied.
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At the center of luck is the choice between Jack Wighton, Matt Burton and Val Holmes.
Latrell Mitchell has a mortgage on one of the central spots, but Wighton and Burton both impressed against Scotland.
Wighton scored two tries and set up two more, while Burton threw the final pass in a couple of breakaway attempts.
Holmes produced a classy performance against Fiji and will be a selection headache for Meninga.
But Damien Cook declared it a race for the right-centre spot because Mitchell has the left wing locked down.
“Lattrell and Addo-Carr played Origin together, they have that combination so you’ll definitely be playing them in the knockout stages,” Cook said on Fox League.
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