Veteran forward Corey Parker believes the looming Four Nations will be remembered for unveiling the Kangaroos’ “generation next”.
Think a heavily depleted Kangaroos are vulnerable?
Think again, according to Australian forward Corey Parker.
The Kangaroos’ record-equalling winning streak of 16 straight Tests appears at risk of abruptly ending at the looming Four Nations after 11 new faces entered the Kangaroos camp in Brisbane.
Remarkably half of last year’s World Cup squad has been ruled out through injury or suspension.
And the total number of contenders declared unavailable for Australia has risen to 21 following Jarryd Hayne’s sensational decision to try his hand at NFL.
But a quick look around at training has eased seven-Test player Parker’s anxiety ahead of the imminent Four Nations.
Instead of going down as the tournament in which the Kangaroos’ record reign ended, Parker sounded confident the Four Nations would be remembered as the event that unveiled “generation next”.
“Through circumstances some players are unavailable but the depth in Australia is endless,” Parker said on Sunday.
“You see all these young faces but I am pretty confident they will be around for a long time.”
Parker said pulling on the Australian kit had reinvigorated him after a long NRL season with the Broncos and Queensland.
But he got the biggest shot in the arm when he saw youngsters like Matt Moylan run out onto the training paddock in the green and gold for the first time.
Penrith fullback Moylan replaced Hayne when he pulled out of the Roos squad to follow his US dream.
It ensured Parker bristled at the notion that the Australian jersey had been cheapened by so many player withdrawals.
“I have heard rumours that the jersey doesn’t mean much – that’s rubbish,” he said.
“If you want to confirm what it means to players, ask one of the debutants how special it is for them.”
Parker did not want to weigh into the debate about addressing the year-long league schedule and protecting players from burnout.
“It is a long season but things could be a lot worse, you could be on holidays and not playing for Australia,” Parker said.
Parker admitted England looked like a daunting prospect with the likes of Sam Tomkins, James Graham and the Burgess brothers not only playing in the NRL but dominating.
However, he clearly did not believe Australia were ripe for the picking despite their international inexperience.
“They are entitled to their opinion,” he said of the critics.
“(But) England have got a good sprinkling of NRL players in their side now.
“They are a quality side and as the tournament goes we will see some good football from them.”
Australia will open their Four Nations campaign against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.