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Moses named in Lebanon World Cup squad but Cheika sweating on Kangaroos call

Lebanon coach Michael Cheika has placed players on standby for a late World Cup call-up in case  Parramatta halfback Mitchell Moses forces his way into the Australian squad with a starring performance in Sunday night’s grand final against Penrith.

Cheika’s decision comes as Scotland named their 24-man squad minus South Sydney centre Campbell Graham, who has spoken regularly about his desire to honour his father’s Scottish heritage at the World Cup.

Graham now appears set to represent the Kangaroos, while Newcastle winger Dom Young is expected to be named in the England squad after he was not chosen by Jamaica.

Cheika has a back up plan in case the Kangaroos swoop on Mitchell Moses
Cheika has a back up plan in case the Kangaroos swoop on Mitchell Moses ©NRL Photos

North Queensland Cowboys pair Jeremiah Nanai and Murray Taulagi were notable omissions from the powerful Toa Samoa squad unveiled on Tuesday in an indication that they have earned a place on the plane to England with the Australian team.

Cheika announced his squad at a function in Sydney on Wednesday and Moses is a key player for the Cedars, who face New Zealand in their opening match on October 16 at Warrington.

The Cedars meet Ireland on October 23 and Jamaica on October 30, with both matches played at Leigh.

Wests Tigers playmaker Adam Doueihi, Canterbury back Jacob Kiraz, South Sydney winger Josh Mansour and Manly forward James Roumanos are the other NRL players in the squad, which includes two players from the domestic Lebanon competition.

Adam Doueihi is expected to partner Mitchell Moses in the halves for Lebanon
Adam Doueihi is expected to partner Mitchell Moses in the halves for Lebanon ©NRL Photos

Daly Cherry-Evans and Nathan Cleary are expected to be the halfbacks chosen in the Kangaroos squad to battle it out for the No.7 jersey during the World Cup, with Ben Hunt also able to provide cover in the halves if needed.

However, if Moses is able to lead the Eels to their first premiership since 1986 Australian coach Mal Meninga and fellow selectors Darren Lockyer and Laurie Daley may find it difficult to leave him out.

“He has obviously played for Lebanon at the last World Cup but it is a tricky one for us,” Cheika said.

“In a very contradictory way, there is a part of me that doesn’t want to coach Mitchell because we want him to be picked for Australia.

“That is the pinnacle to see one of our players playing up there with a team that can win the World Cup, I think for us.

“We will have to wait and see what happens with the Australian selection next week, but hopefully he will be with us.

“We have got excellent players in the stand-by squad waiting to step in, and it is not easy to work hard when you know you have missed out on the squad so I want to pay tribute to those guys because they are working hard for the opportunity that will come to them.”

Lebanon reached the quarter-finals at the 2017 World Cup, losing to Tonga at Christchurch, and Cheika and his coaching staff of Matt King, Robbie Farah and Michael Habib are aiming to finish in the top two in Pool D to guarantee automatic qualification for France in 2025.

Bulldogs back Jacob Kiraz is one of the NRL stars in the Lebanon squad
Bulldogs back Jacob Kiraz is one of the NRL stars in the Lebanon squad ©NRL Photos

The squad has been training at Belmore, without Moses, and will depart Sydney on Monday ahead of their World Cup warm-up match against Wales on October 8.

Lebanon Cedars

Jalal Bazzaz (Wests Illawarra), Adam Doueihi (Wests Tigers), Hanna El-Nachar (Penrith Panthers), Toufic El-Hajj (American University of Beirut), Elie El-Zakhem (Parramatta Eels), Atef Hamdan (Wolves, Lebanon), Kayne Kalache (Newtown Jets), Andrew Kazzi (Western Suburbs Magpies), Jacob Kiraz (Canterbury Bulldogs), Bilaal Maarbani (Blacktown Workers Sea Eagles), Anthony Layoun (St Marys Saints), Josh Mansour (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Josh Maree (Wentworthville United), Tony Maroun (Ryde-Eastwood Hawks), Abbas Miski (Wigan Warriors), Brad Morkos (Canberra Raiders), Mitchell Moses (Parramatta Eels), Jaxson Rahme (South Sydney Rabbitohs), Khalil Rahme (Mt Pritchard Mounties), Khaled Rajab (Canterbury Bulldogs), Reece Robinson (unattached), James Roumanos (Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles), Mikey Tannous (Wests Tigers), Charbel Tasipale (Newtown Jets).

Meanwhile, Dolphins-bound centre Euan Aitken is the only established NRL star in the Scotland squad after Canterbury back Aaron Schoupp was ruled out with injury and Campbell Graham was omitted.

Campbell Graham appears set to be in Australia's World Cup squad
Campbell Graham appears set to be in Australia's World Cup squad ©Robb Cox/NRL Photos

Injuries have also ruled out former Panthers and Cowboys fullback Lachlan Coote, who now plays for Hull KR, along with Salford Reds forward Danny Addy and Castleford Tigers playmaker Callum McLelland.

Among the seven uncapped players in the squad are Brisbane Broncos prop Logan Bayliss-Brow, Bulldogs halfback and Jersey Flegg player of the year Bailey Hayward, Parramatta Eels lock Luke Bain and Mackay Cutters hooker Kyle Schneider.

North Queensland 2015 premiership winner Kane Linnett, who also plays for Hull KR, is one of six Super League players in the squad.

The others are former New Zealand Warriors forward James Bell (St Helens), Salford's Ryan Brierly and Sam Luckley, Toulouse's Matt Russell and Wakefield's Liam Hood.  

Scotland Bravehearts

Charlie Emslie, Shane Toal (Barrow Raiders), Keiran Buchanan (Batley Bulldogs), Logan Bayliss-Brow* (Brisbane Broncos), Bailey Hayward* (Canterbury Bulldogs), Davey Dixon, Dale Ferguson (Dewsbury Rams), Lewis Clarke (Edinburgh Eagles), Ben Hellewell (Featherstone Rovers), Lachlan Walmsley (Halifax Panthers), Kane Linnett (Hull KR), Calum Gahan*, Alex Walker (London Broncos), Kyle Schneider* (Mackay Cutters), Euan Aiken (New Zealand Warriors), Luke Bain* (Parramatta Eels), Ryan Brierley, Sam Luckley (Salford Red Devils), Bayley Liu* (Sheffield Eagles), James Bell (St Helens), Matty Russell (Toulouse), Liam Hood (Wakefield), Guy Graham* (Whitehaven RLFC), Jack Teanby (York City Knights).

Jamaica coach Romeo Monteith has also announced his squad, and Young was a notable absentee. However, his brother Alex will play for the Reggae Warriors.

Young is set to be named in the England squad.

Acknowledgement of Country

Parramatta Eels respect and honour the Traditional Custodians of the land and pay our respects to their Elders past, present and future. We acknowledge the stories, traditions and living cultures of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on the lands we meet, gather and play on.

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