Mal Meninga has named his squad for the upcoming Four Nations, choosing seven new players to the previous seasons'.
The chosen squad now boasts a mix of experience, with players like Greg Inglis, Sam Thaiday, Cameron Smith, Matt Scott and Cooper Cronk and fresh talent with Shannon Boyd, Jake Friend, Tyson Frizell, Matt Moylan, Justin O’Neill and Sharks premiership winners James Maloney and Valentine Holmes joining the role call.
Out of the 24-person squad, three Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander players will be representing their country and retrospective Indigenous nations. This includes,
Club: South Sydney Rabbitohs
Greg Inglis, a Dunghutti man, is widely regarded as one of Australia's rugby league legends. He's played outstanding performances at club, state and international level over the past decade. Off the field Inglis works closely with a number of Indigenous groups and charities and has a certificate in Youth Work. Oh, and he's met Oprah too, which is pretty cool.
Club: North Queensland Cowboys
Johnathan Thurston, a Gungarri-Kiwi man, was appointed Cowboys captain in 2007 and led them to the preliminary final. Gratifying given Thurston was turned down from a number of clubs at a young age, as he was 'too small' to play league. He was the only player to have lined up in every single match of Queensland's eight State of Origin series victories and has not missed an Origin clash since his debut in game one, 2005. In 2015, Thurston was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Letters from James Cook University for 'outstanding service and exceptional contributions to the northern Queensland community'. A proud Aboriginal man, Thurston wears the red, black and yellow colours of the Aboriginal flag on his mouthguard and his headgear patterned with Indigenous art, which he gives away to a young fan after each game.
Club: Brisbane Broncos
Sam Thaiday, a Torres Strait Islander man, is one of rugby league's most highly regarded and respected players. He is the former captain of the Brisbane Broncos, an Australian and Queensland representative. In 2013 he made his profession boxing debut. As a younger sportsman he remembers telling the Broncos nutritionist that his favourite food included dugong, turtle and Hungry Jack's.
Unfortunately some anticipated Indigenous players were unsuccessful, with Justin O’Neill in front of Newcastle Knights, Dane Gagai and the controversial decision that Andrew Fifita, who was a star player for Cronulla in last weeks' premiership final, because of their 'off-field issues'.
The players will be lead by long-time player and former Queensland coach, Mal Meninga and will play against New Zealand Saturday 15 October in Perth.