Next-gen Blues powering Kangaroos push

Nov 30, 2017 - 12:58 AM It's the Blues tidal wave powering Australia to rugby league supremacy.

Eighteen months after newly-appointed coach Mal Meninga relied on Queensland forwards, the Kangaroos are on the verge of Rugby League World Cup glory with a near all-NSW pack.

Led by starting props Aaron Woods and David Klemmer, seven of Australia's 10 forwards named for Saturday's final against England hail from south of the Tweed.

Skipper Cameron Smith, Matt Gillett and Josh McGuire are the only Maroons, while the bench of Reagan Campbell-Gilla rd, Jordan McLean, Tyson Frizell and Wade Graham is rinsed blue.

It's a far cry from Meninga's first Test match in charge mid last year, when Paul Gallen and James Tamou were a speck of blue in a pack washed maroon.

Kangaroos second-rower and NSW captain Boyd Cordner singled out Campbell-Gillard, who has yet to play State of Origin, for proving his ability at the representative level.

"Did you see his runs against Fiji (in the semi-final)? He's an exciting kid coming through to watch. I didn't know he was 24, I thought he was a lot older than what he was," Cordner said.

"He's a guy that has taken his opportunity with both hands. He's been really good for Australia in this tournament and if he keeps going I'm sure he'll get a lot more Tests."

Cordner believes an exciting new era of talent is emerging for new Blues coach Brad Fittler.

"It's a long way away but if they keep going the way they are and keep producing on the field then I'm sure they'll put their hand up for sure to play in that arena," he said.

"Given what they've produced this tournament, you'd think they'd handle it pretty well."

Like Campbell-Gillard, utility Wade Graham is appearing in his first Kangaroos tournament but had also been left impressed by the Penrith forward's stellar play.

The towering prop was called into Meninga's 17 following an injury to Jake Trbojevic.

"Reggie was outstanding last game, some of them kick returns he brought back. I was wincing watching him go into tackles but he's had a brilliant year at the Panthers," Graham said.

"The motivation I've got to go back to Cronulla and to improve as an elder guy, you could only imagine what that's going to do for a young guy like Reggie going back to Penrith.

"Or even Macca going back to North Queensland after this experience and going to a new club. It'll be interesting to see how big they come out next year and how good a season they'll have."


Matthew Scott - Qld

Cameron Smith - Qld

Paul Gallen - NSW

Josh Papalii - Qld

Matt Gillett - Qld

Corey Parker - Qld

Bench: Josh McGuire (Qld), Michael Morgan (Qld), James Tamou (NSW), Sam Thaiday (Qld)


Aaron Woods - NSW

Cameron Smith - Qld

David Klemmer - NSW

Boyd Cordner - NSW

Matt Gillett - Qld

Josh McGuire - Qld

Bench: Wade Graham (NSW), Jordan McLean (NSW), Reagan Campbell-Gillard (NSW), Tyson Frizell (NSW)

Source: AAP

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