Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has declared the only player safe in his 17 is captain James Tedesco.
However rugby league greats Greg Alexander and Cooper Cronk believes he might be telling a white lie and has a plan up his sleeve.
Meninga has named his team to take on Fiji in Australia’s opening clash of the World Cup on the weekend.
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But he told Fox League’s RLWC Preview Show on Thursday that majority of the spots in the 17 are up for grabs moving forward.
“No real set (17), James Tedesco’s captain so that’s one player that will definitely get picked,” he said.
“But I’m pretty open to performance over here, not only on the field but certainly how they behave off it too.”
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Meninga named Ben Hunt at hooker with Harry Grant on the bench, following Queensland’s blueprint of the one-two punch at dummy-half. But he said he was “uncertain” if he will stick with that combination for the entire tournament.
“It worked at Origin level, but I feel that playing against a team like New Zealand, we’d need to go with an all-forward bench,” he said.
“We’ll see how people perform and how the cohesion works in the team. We’ll make sure everyone gets a fair chance and then we make those tougher decisions as the tournament goes on.”
Not featuring in the first game is Panthers trio Nathan Cleary, Isaah Yeo and Liam Martin as well as Eels prop Reagan Campbell-Gillard.
They will all be rested after playing in the NRL grand final a fortnight ago, while Roosters forward Lindsay Collins is serving a suspension.
Meninga revealed he plans on rotating the squad over the three pool games and potential even the quarterfinal.
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The rested players will return for Australia’s second game and this week’s 18th and 19th men, Matt Burton and Campbell Graham, will also play against Scotland.
With Cleary rested for the Fiji clash, Manly veteran and the incumbent playmaker No.7, Daly Cherry-Evans gets first shot at halfback.
The halfback battle is the hottest topic heading into the World Cup given Cherry-Evans’ experience and Cleary’s form.
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Braith Anasta declared “Cleary has got to be the seven and Cameron Munster has to be the six” because “they’re the best in their respective positions” — and Alexander agreed.
While debate over team selection is sure to heat up over the first couple of games, Cronk believes Meninga “knows his (first choice) team” and we won’t see it until the quarterfinals.
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“I know his style of coaching, this stage of the tournament it’s about giving everyone a go,” Cronk said.
“Cleary rests this one, Cleary will play the next one and DCE will rest, then Cleary and DCE will both play the last one while Munster rests.
“Then quarter-final time it’s your best 17. Historically he’s always given everyone a game to represent their country.”
Alexander is also confident that Meninga is relatively settled on his preferred 17 and only sees a couple of spots open.
“I think there’s a wing and a centre spot up for grabs depending on what he does with Valentine Holmes. Val either plays wing and Jack Wighton plays centre or Val plays centre and Murray Taulagi plays on the wing,” he said.
“Tino Fa’asuamaleaui will be one of the front-rowers, but I think the other front row spot is open.”