This series will look at the top candidates that will feature for Australia at the upcoming World Cup, starting at fullback.
As is often the case, Australia are going into the World Cup with an abundance of options all over the field.
This is certainly no different at fullback, and as usual some world class players will unfortunately be side-lined as a result.
5. Kalyn Ponga
Ponga has never played a first-grade international game, but he is in no way lacking in the talent required. However, being eligible to play for both the Kiwis and Kangaroos, he may well make a decision that he thinks will have him best placed to appear at the upcoming World Cup. Regardless of his decision, he will need a very strong season to topple his competitors.
4. Clint Gutherson
Gutherson is one of the most under appreciated players in the NRL. He lacks the flashiness and speed of many of his fullback counterparts, but his intelligence and skill are undeniable. The 26-year-old made his State of Origin debut last year, but playing at centre was unable to convince many that he is the man to earn the starting spot for Australia. Despite this, if he was selected to play, he would not look out of place by any means.
3. Tom Trbojevic
The fact a player as good as Trbojevic likely won’t start at the World Cup is a testament to the strength in depth that Australia currently have at fullback. The size and speed of Trbojevic make him one of the most dangerous players in the league, and his ability to defend the high ball is almost unmatched. For these reasons it would be impossible to write off his chances of starting, despite the quality he has to contend with.
2. Ryan Papenhuyzen
Papenhuyzen being established as Australia’s first choice fullback is not a case of if, but when. However, with a player of Tedesco’s quality and experience to contend with, this autumn may be just too soon for him to be chosen as a starter. Although, his pace and footwork are unrivalled by any player in the world, and after his strong start to the season he has the opportunity to do enough to get the nod from Mal Meninga.
1. James Tedesco
Despite some very strong competition from the others on this list, Teddy may just have enough to be given the number 1 shirt for the World Cup. He has been considered the best fullback rugby league has to offer since Billy Slater’s retirement, and it would be an extremely bold decision to drop him, especially considering his Dally M Medal winning season was just two years ago.