Mitchell left out of Pacific Champs squad

Mal Meninga. Photo: Getty Images
Mal Meninga. Photo: Getty Images
Australia coach Mal Meninga has backed Latrell Mitchell to respond from a "torrid" year after he was overlooked for a Kangaroos squad that included Josh Addo-Carr and Valentine Holmes.

Addo-Carr’s availability for the Pacific Championships is up in the air after he was involved in a brawl at the Koori Knockout on NRL grand final weekend.

Meninga also named Holmes despite the fact he is unavailable for their tournament opener against Samoa in Townsville on October 14 due to a one-match suspension.

Holmes was investigated by the NRL integrity unit after he posted a photo of himself on Instagram, posing with a bag of white powder.

"With Valentine Holmes, it will be announced this afternoon he has a one-match suspension, and he has accepted the penalty," ARL Commission chair Peter V’landys said at the squad unveiling in Sydney yesterday.

"We’re not going to comment on the Addo-Carr situation because it’s with the integrity unit, and we’ll let them do their investigation."

Mitchell, who was one of Meninga’s most valuable players in last year’s Rugby League World Cup, also played at the Koori Knockout.

Meninga said he was surprised to see him feature, given Mitchell’s club, South Sydney, had said he was unavailable for Kangaroos selection because of a finger injury.

"The club said that he’s out because of injury, so we’ve just gone with that," Meninga said.

"I was a bit surprised, but the club gave him permission to do that."

There was no room in Meninga’s squad for Dally M Medallist Kalyn Ponga, Penrith fullback Dylan Edwards or Brisbane whiz Reece Walsh.

James Tedesco retains the captaincy.

There were, however, five Broncos players included in the squad, Selwyn Cobbo, Payne Haas, Patrick Carrigan, Tom Flegler and Kotoni Staggs all being selected.

Staggs and Dolphins flyer Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow have both elected to play for Australia, despite representing Tonga and Samoa respectively at last year’s World Cup.

Only three members of Penrith’s grand final-winning squad — Liam Martin, Isaah Yeo and Nathan Cleary — were named.

Meninga said Cleary would get the nod ahead of Queensland halfback Daly Cherry-Evans to wear the No 7 jersey.

"Daly’s had an unbelievable year, but Nathan is at another level and he showed that on Sunday," Meninga said.

Australia will face the Kiwis in Melbourne on October 28. The tournament final is in Hamilton on November 4.

Kangaroos squad

For Pacific Championships

Josh Addo-Carr, Patrick Carrigan, Daly Cherry-Evans, Nathan Cleary, Selwyn Cobbo, Lindsay Collins, Reuben Cotter, Tino Fa’asuamaleaui, Thomas Flegler, Harry Grant, Payne Haas, Valentine Holmes, Ben Hunt, Liam Martin, Cameron Munster, Cameron Murray, Kotoni Staggs, Hamiso Tabuai-Fidow, James Tedesco (c), Jake Trbojevic, Isaah Yeo.