‘It was unethical’: Lam slams Kangaroo no-shows

13 Feb 23, 3:00PM 0 Comments

Written by John Davidson

Photo by Getty Images

Australia assistant coach Adrian Lam has taken aim at the clutch of State of Origin players who made themselves unavailable for the Kangaroos for last year’s World Cup.

A group of players who turned out for Queensland and NSW in the three-game series elected not to represent the green and gold at the World Cup in the UK, which the Kangaroos successfully defended by beating Samoa in the November final at Old Trafford.

Blues props Payne Haas and Jacob Saifiti ruled themselves out of the tournament, as did Maroons fullback Kayln Ponga.

There was also a large number of Origin players who decided to represent countries other than Australia, including NSW’s Brian To’o, Jarome Luai, Stephen Crichton and Junior Paulo for Samoa, and Daniel Tupou and Siosifa Talakai for Tonga, while Queenslanders Josh Papalii played for Toa Samoa and Felise Kaufusi for the Mate Ma’a.

Lam described those that turned their backs on Australia after playing Origin as “unethical”, and praised Kangaroos boss Mal Meninga for going on to lead the Kangaroos to victory on English soil.

“What he did with that group last year was unbelievable,” he told Everything Rugby League.

“I get goosebumps thinking about it.

“Everyone was saying we were on the downer after the 2017 World Cup and the way he rallied players, he met with them one on one.

“The non-players that pulled out of a World Cup year that played Origin as well don’t forget, so they’ve taken someone’s position in Origin to go and do that was unethical, I think.

“But the way that Mal handled it and got the players that he wanted in the end to play for him was outstanding.


“Players like Addo-Carr who couldn’t make the Origin team. There was others too…There was huge pressure on Mal [heading into the World Cup]. People were saying Australia are done.

“So everyone was into Mal saying the Kangaroos are not going to win, they’re not going to be favourites.

“All of a sudden they graded us as fourth for this World Cup and it was like what the hell.

“There was a massive challenge for Mal and the way that he coached was unbelievable.

“A lot of players turned their back on Australia that may have potentially been in the squad, and how he managed that to get the group that we had was unbelievable.”

At this stage the Kangaroos have no Test matches planned for 2023.

The launch of the international calender has been held back because of the continued impasse over the CBA between the NRL and the RLPA.

But Lam, who has been an assistant under Meninga since 2016, believes it would not be terrible if the green and gold do not play this year.

“Usually after a World Cup year you want players to have a break,” he said.

“So it wouldn’t be the end of the world if they didn’t play Test matches, because they miss out on time off and pre-season time.

“It would be the right year not to play any.”

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