Penrith fans are up in arms over Mal Meninga's snubbing of Clive Churchill medallist Dylan Edwards from his 24-man Kangaroos squad, however, selector Laurie Daley has revealed the reason Edwards missed out on a green and gold jersey.
The Panthers' fullback was dynamic in 2022, a career-best season that saw the two-time premiership winner emerge from the pack and declare himself as one of the NRL's elite fullbacks - even if he's too modest to say so himself.
Falling agonisingly short of 300 running metres in the grand final, it was his try-saving tackle on Bailey Simonsson that will dominate the highlight reel in the same way Stephen Crichton's 2021 intercept try has.
While his toughness and ability to keep turning up make him an attractive pick, Edwards joined Nicho Hynes and Damien Cook as emergency players for the 24-man squad, but won't take the field at the tournament.
Despite having so few negative aspects to his game amongst all his positive attributes, there is one that turned Daley and Meninga away from selecting him. - his versatility.
“It was a real tough decision because Dylan deserved selection on form but, unfortunately, when you're in a touring party then versatility needs to come into play,” Daley told The Daily Telegraph.
“That versatility cost him (Edwards), which is unfortunate.
“He has impressed everyone and played so well in the grand final, so he was discussed but, in the end, we had to make that tough decision.”
Daley had a similar explanation when quizzed about the non-selection of Dally M recipient Nicho Hynes, who was named in the emergency players.
However, after being named the Dally M Halfback of the Year and guiding Cronulla to a 2nd-placed finish, many consider Hynes unlucky to its the squad.
The Kangaroos kickstart their World Cup campaign next Sunday morning against Fiji sans Edwards and Hynes as the Tier One nation looks to secure their third consecutive World Cup trophy.