Under pressureÂ Broncos utilityÂ Karmichael Hunt has received the call up for the Kangaroos World Cup Campaign; the livewire back will square off against England in Melbourne on Sunday, filling in for the luckless Kurt Gidley. Coming off the bench, Gidley has been cursed when taking part in representative games – the flashy utility having to sit out part of the NSW Origin campaign earlier this year.
Hunt’s is the only change made by the Roos, the side remaining the same in terms of starting players – after putting in an impressive showing against the Kiwis on Sunday night at the SFS.
No. 7 Johnathan Thurston remains in the lineup regardless of pressure surrounding him and his family. Its reported that JT is also suffering from some shoulder problems.
Flanker Brent Tate has recovered from heavy concussion sustained in the win over the Kiwis, and will start.
This will be the first test for fullback Hunt since 2007.
The 21-year-old originally missing his spot in theÂ World Cup team but was called up after Broncos teammate Justin Hodges was ruled out with a shoulder injury.
But his inclusion was not without controversy, as he, fellow Cup squad member Darius Boyd and Brisbane forward Sam Thaiday are still under police investigation for an alleged sexual assault last month.
Hooker Cameron Smith said the loss of Gidley was a blow for the utility and for the Kangaroos.
“It’s very disappointing for Kurt and obviously our team as well,” he said.
“He certainly deserved his spot in our team, he’s been one of the best players in our comp this year and he was really looking forward to playing this week.
“But he got the advice from the medical team that it was better that he pull out now and get his knee cleaned up to make sure his future is secure.”
Smith said the inclusion of Hunt illustrated Australia’s depth, and was confident the Brisbane star could provide the side with flexibility, like Gidley.
“Karmichael is a very good player, he’s similar to Kurt where he can fill a lot of positions and if needed he can go into the forward pack as well,” he said.
“I think he’ll do a good job for us.”
Smith expected Thurston to overcome any doubt to play.
“He’s quite a tough character and he’s a competitor as well, so I’d say he’d like to be out there against the Poms this weekend,” he said.
Team: Billy Slater, Joel Monaghan, Greg Inglis, Israel Folau, Brent Tate, Darren Lockyer (capt), Johnathan Thurston, Petero Civoniceva, Cameron Smith, Steve Price, Glenn Stewart, Anthony Laffranchi, Paul Gallen. Interchange: Brent Kite, Josh Perry, Anthony Tupou, Karmichael Hunt.