Coach Tim Sheens admits Australian teams of the past would have panicked but he has backed the current crop of youngsters to lift a depleted Kangaroos.
In the past, Tim Sheens admits the Kangaroos would have reached for the panic button.
However, the Australian rugby league coach is convinced the current generation of players are tailor made to step up in the upcoming Four Nations tournament with the depleted Kangaroos’ record winning streak on the line.
And you wouldn’t believe his inspiration.
The Kangaroos boast 11 rookies in their 24-strong squad after Jarryd Hayne became the latest no show following his sensational call to pursue an NFL career.
Half of last year’s World Cup squad have been ruled out through injury or suspension, taking the total number of contenders declared unavailable for Australia to 21.
It may not have been what Sheens wanted to hear as Australia looks to defend a 16-straight winning run – equalling a record set by the Kangaroos’ “Invincibles” between 1979-83.
But Sheens is convinced youthful exuberance will fill the void in their Four Nations campaign which starts in Brisbane on October 25 against New Zealand.
“Young blokes bring enthusiasm. They make mistakes too but they are not fazed like my generation,” he said.
“My generation would have panicked at the thought of playing in a Test.
“These guys are ready to play.
“Some have played in a grand final two weeks ago, others have played rep footy in City-Country and Origin.
“I don’t think it is such a rookie group that everyone thinks it is.”
And the reason why Sheens is so confident?
Sheens cited the New Zealand team that had 14 players unavailable – and others such as Jared Waerea-Hargreaves, Frank-Paul Nuuausala and Shaun Kenny-Dowall inexplicably ignored – that gave Australia a scare in the trans-Tasman Test in May.
A Kiwi side that plucked Penrith’s Isaac John from reserve grade to play five-eighth led 18-12 at halftime before going down 30-18 to the world champions in Sydney.
“New Zealand went through it in the mid-year Test and everyone said ‘how young are they’ but for 60 minutes they had their foot on our throat,” Sheens said.
“It took a fair amount of work to get out of that.
“Young blokes bring enthusiasm.”
Sheens also clung to that theory when discussing the youngster asked to replace Hayne in the squad – Penrith fullback Matt Moylan.
“Moylan has come into the squad, he wasn’t too worried about Jarryd leaving,” Sheens said.
“You move on. It’s like an injury. You get used to it and the next kid comes through.”