Kangaroo legends continue to express their dismay at the Rugby League World Cup shirt number debacle.
Rather than line up in the traditional 1-17 numbers based on positions, the 11 already capped Kangaroos in this year’s 24-man roster have been given a number based on the order in which they had Test debuts.
The 13 in the squad yet to debut have been given a number from 12 to 24 in alphabetical order.
Australia’s 1992 World Cup Final savior Steve Renouf, who played 11 Tests, says he is “shocked” that the current Kangaroos will not be able to wear their position numbers in this year’s tournament.
Renouf wore the No. 3 shirt in the final 30 years ago and scored the winning attempt on his Test debut in a 10-6 win over Great Britain.
The numbering system is part of the Rugby League World Cup Rules, signed by qualifying teams two years ago.
Even Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga, who was also Renouf’s center partner in the 1992 final, isn’t in favor of the move, voicing exactly that on SEN radio.
“It takes the excitement out of your debutants, especially, as they’re playing in numbers that don’t mean anything to them,” he said.
“The fans will try to understand who is in the 24 jersey playing centre.”
Renouf told AAP he agreed with his former teammate.
“If you’re a center like I was, it’s No. 3 or No. 4,” he said.
“Imagine starting on the team and turning 24. People would always think you were a reserve.
“My Australian jersey is the ultimate jersey for me. It has pride of place. I wore #3 when it debuted and it will always be special.
“That’s why I’m shocked that the players won’t be able to play in their position numbers this year. I understand it’s the rules but I don’t agree with it.’
When Renouf saw the Kangaroos team roster for their opening World Cup duel with Fiji – with center Latrell Mitchell expected to wear the No. 8 jersey – he snapped a photo of his 1992 test jumper and posted it on social media with the words : “Had the privilege of wearing this jersey 30 years ago! With my number!’.
Knights legend Matthew Johns, who played nine Tests for the Kangaroos, was also scathing about the stunning decision.
“I can’t believe it, every game you should earn your jersey one through 17, the couple of sixes (Test jerseys) I got, they’re the special ones because you earned them,” he said on SEN.
“I honestly hate it… the traditional jerseys and numbers are part of the history of the sport and you shouldn’t mess with them.”
The Kangaroos kick off their World Cup campaign against Fiji at 5.30am (AEST) on Sunday morning (AEST) and you can follow all the action on Daily Mail Australia’s live blog about the game.