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Kangaroos Form Team: Bolter among new faces surging into squad

Warriors' breakout star Josh Curran and Panthers second-rower Liam Martin headline a new-look Kangaroos Form Team, the last of the regular season.

NRL.com experts Jamie Soward, Steve Renouf and Brett Kimmorley have combined to select their sixth Kangaroos Form Team of 2021.

Every month this season, for a series presented by Gallagher, the retired greats have each selected a 17-man Australian squad with a composite team then assembled based on their most popular picks.

There will be a final team announced at the end of the season.

Incumbency and career achievements weren't part of the selection criteria, so the trio's teams aren't necessarily a reflection of who they believe should make Australia's next official side.

A core group of star players, including James Tedesco, Latrell Mitchell, Tom Trbojevic, Junior Paulo and Christian Welch, have formed the backbone of the composite squad in most editions.

After successfully returning from a shoulder injury, Panthers halfback Nathan Cleary has reclaimed his spot off Daly Cherry-Evans.

Cleary played three matches in August, tallying four try assists, a try, four tackle-breaks and 1568 kicking metres.

In further changes to July's team, Welch has been promoted to start at prop with Daniel Saifiti's knee injury bumping him out.

Penrith winger Brian To'o only played once in the last month, but so impressive was his display against the Wests Tigers upon returning from an ankle injury in round 24 that he got the nod.

To'o recorded a huge 295 metres - 103 post-contact - as well as claiming his 11th try of a terrific campaign on the weekend.

Roosters second-rower Angus Crichton's suspension opened the door for Panthers forward Liam Martin to take an edge position.

After coming off the bench for Penrith to begin the year, the NSW representative has started in the second row for the past four rounds.

Jai Arrow's recent output for the Rabbitohs was deserving of a recall to the interchange while Warriors forward Josh Curran's sensational end to the season has also given him a seat on the pine.

Here's who the experts chose individually.

Jamie Soward

"It was a little bit tough because there were so many injuries, but over the last month I've really felt like these guys have stood up," the 2010 St George Illawarra premiership winner said.

Soward was the only expert to plump for Sea Eagles speedster Jason Saab, who bagged another six four-pointers in August.

"I've really liked his development this year. Yes, he's scored tries, but he's actually getting a little bit dirty at the back end of the field which is what all good wingers should do," Soward said.

Penrith's Matt Burton was another first-time selection.

"You need try-scorers in your team. I know [Burton] is in a good team at the moment, but he's really adapted to what it takes to play centre. Defensively, he's pretty sound as well," Soward said.

"I've really liked his ability to be able to catch the ball and work off the ball over at that left centre for Penrith."

The "irresistible form" of Rabbitohs five-eighth Cody Walker delivered him a halves berth alongside Nathan Cleary.

"I think [Cleary] has got the best kicking game that I've seen in the last whatever. [Adam] Reynolds has been great for a long time now, but Cleary's maturation [is impressive]," Soward added.

"I think he's on that path of [James] Tedesco about being a leader, he knows what it takes now. It's great watching him play."

Steve Renouf

The Broncos legend has been enjoying watching the development of Warriors second-rower Josh Curran, a fellow headgear wearer.

"He competes and turns up, he's got a motor on him. I was watching a couple of games they were playing out at Redcliffe. He was Johnny-on-the-spot a lot of the time," Renouf said.

"He's done that consistently. He's always competing and when there's something happening, he's around the ball. Even with kick-chases and defensively, his work rate is phenomenal."

Renouf's back five has remained largely consistent throughout the season and the champion centre sung their praises once more.

"They're just performing week in, week out," he said.

"We won't see Latrell in the team in the next one we do, that's probably stating the obvious ... Latrell's just been on fire. It's such a shame, what happened on the weekend."

In the pack, it was a "no-brainer" to opt for Broncos behemoth Payne Haas alongside Storm rock Christian Welch.

"Payne's efforts are amazing and same with Welch," he said.

"In his own way, he's much the same. I just love his work rate and he bends the line ... They both bring something different but you want performers like that up front."

Brett Kimmorley

The former Australian halfback has again gone with a powerful and versatile backline to get momentum rolling.

"I think the six-to-go rule helps these guys quite a lot," he said.

"I've seen some data presented, the back three actually nearly run more metres than the middle forwards these days, so it's important to start sets and finish tries and do all that kind of stuff.

"Technically, Tedesco's your second five-eighth in the team. Turbo [Tom Trbojevic] is a freak and is potentially going to win the Dally M or be close to it. It's their ability to produce on big occasions."

Although Kimmorley deemed Cleary "a bit rusty" when he first returned, he believes the Panthers star has found his groove.

"[I like] his ability to build pressure through a great kicking game, take the ball to the line," Kimmorley said.

"Nathan and DCE [Daly Cherry-Evans] are definitely the standout halfbacks in the competition ... by a long, long way.

"And they both run the ball with the defence going backwards and attacking options in and around them ... For all the other halves who are struggling to create things, well, watch those two play."

 

The views in this article do not necessarily express the opinions of the NRL, ARL Commission, NRL clubs or state associations.