Fresh from leading the Roosters to a grand final victory (as co-captain with Jake Friend) Boyd Cordner has been named the Kangaroos captain after Greg Inglis was caught drink driving just hours after being announced as skipper when the squad was first named.
Cordner has had a miracle year so far, having led the Roosters to grand final glory as well as leading NSW to victory in the State of Origin series. He is already the first man since the 80’s to lead both the Blues and a club team to victory – now he gets the chance to become the first ever to combine this with captaining the national team to a victory.
Inglis, meanwhile, has copped a two match ban from the NRL for bringing the game into disrepute – coincidentally the same number of games that the Kangaroos are playing this year. The Australian captain for a little over 24 hours, he was playing the Koori Knockout competition in Dubbo over the long weekend before driving back to Sydney on Monday. He was caught speeding at Lithgow on the way and breathalysed, blowing 0.085 and being charged with mid-range drink driving.
The Kangaroos will play New Zealand on October 13 and Tonga on the 20th, both in Auckland (where Tonga enjoys widespread community support). Australia will start both games as heavy favourites coming off their World Cup victory last year, and any result other than 2 wins will be a setback for Cordner and coach Mal Meninga.
The Kangaroos also agreed to reduce their match payments for the game against Tonga to allow the game to go ahead, given the lack of money in Tongan rugby league. Each player would normally pocket $20,000 for an international appearance, but for this game they are expected to collect less than $5,000.
These two internationals will cap by far the most successful year of Cordner’s career, and he will be joined in this with Roosters and Blues champion teammates Latrell Mitchell and James Tedesco. 11 of the 19 players selected for the Kangaroos are from NSW, in a dramatic turnaround from the years of Queensland dominance.