Playmaker Johnathan Thurston has been ruled out of Australia’s Four Nations campaign with a shoulder injury, giving Roosters star Mitchell Pearce a chance to wear the number six jersey.
The Cowboys captain joins a long list of Kangaroos who will miss the six-week tournament, beginning in Brisbane on October 25.
Thurston confirmed that he had withdrawn from the Kangaroos squad which is to be named on Monday.
“It was a really difficult decision to have to make but, in the end, thedoctor really took it out of my hands when I saw him yesterday,” Thurston said in a statement.
“You never want to miss playing rep footy, and I’m very proud of my record in that area, but this time there’s no other option.
“I’d like to wish the Kangaroos all the best for the Four Nations. I’ll definitely be watching every match they play and cheering them on.”
The list of Kangaroos struck by injury includes Billy Slater, Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Matt Scott, Nate Myles, Paul Gallen and James Tamou.
Justin Hodges, Josh Dugan, Trent Merrin, Will Hopoate and Andrew Fifita are also unavailable.
The exclusion of these big names will however open the way for a number of rookies to make their Test Debut.
Australia begins their Four Nations campaign against New Zealand at Suncorp Stadium on October 25, in a double-header opening which also includes the Samoa v. England Test.
The final will be played in Wellington on November 15.