'Turbo Tom' A Hit On Centre Stage
How fitting it was that the sounds of Sydney’s Northern Beaches reverberate around the SFS as the Kangaroos capped an unbeaten run to the Rugby League World Cup Quarter-Finals.
Though not the noise of waves crashing against the Manly wharf, nor the clink and grind of fresh coffee at the ready, it was the iconic beats of Australian Rock greats INXS that would ring throughout the revered stadium in the aftermath of full-time.
Manly product Tom Trbojevic – the ‘new sensation’ in the Kangaroos’ backline – made his first start at centre for the Green and Gold in Australia’s 34-0 win over Lebanon.
Running for 176 metres from his 16 carries, with 15 tackles to his name also, Trbojevic iced an already-impressive night with a try in match’s latter stages, his first four-pointer in the Test arena.
Playing in the centres for only the fifth time of his career – the four times previous all at NRL level – the 21-year-old flyer earned the rightful plaudits of his coach, for his work seen on both sides of the ball.
“I thought [Trbojevic] was pretty good for us tonight, he was probably our best player,” Meninga said.
“Those young guys are putting pressure on the older fellas which is fantastic, that’s what we want to see.
“That’s the depth of Australian Rugby League at the moment, we’ve got all these quality young players who are getting opportunities … and that’s what we want.”
Trbojevic’s inclusion in the Australian side to face Lebanon came at the expense of rested outside back Will Chambers, who watched on from the stands as the Kangaroos ran in six tries against the Cedars on Saturday night.
Debuting on the wing in the side’s Week Two, 46-point win over France in Canberra, Trbojevic’s short-term role in the Australian fold remains to be seen – despite the coach’s praise.
With Meninga declaring that he will name his best side to take on Samoa in next week’s quarter-final in Darwin, Trbojevic is likely to make way for Chambers, or fellow centre regular, Josh Dugan.
“That’s part of our rotation policy, we’re trying to give the players enough games, but also rest them at the same time,” Meninga said.
“I think we’ve done really well, and given our all of players enough match fitness and time.
“It’s going to be difficult, but I think we’ll handle the [Darwin] conditions and get through that, and hopefully move forward.”