One of the most accomplished halfbacks of the NRL era has criticised Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga for considering taking Daly Cherry-Evans into Australia's quarter-final against Lebanon on the bench.

Cooper Cronk says it should be a ‘straightforward' decision for Meninga to leave out Cherry-Evans and start with Nathan Cleary, believing the current premiership-winning halfback is a better option.

He also dismissed the idea of keeping DCE on the bench and wasting a spot that could be better utilised by Harry Grant or Ben Hunt.

“Let's call it as we see it, I think Cleary starts and will get the job done,” Cronk told Fox Sports.

“If you look at the start of the game versus Italy… (Meninga) started with Cleary on the right which is his preferred side. (Five-eighth Cameron) Munster is a left-sided player.

“The rotation of Ben Hunt and Harry Grant has worked, I don't think you can carry Cherry-Evans on top of that. He may do so if needed, but I think it's pretty straightforward.

“The Australian halfback job is a pretty sought-after and revered position, but I think Cleary will be the person who gets it.

While Cronk had an appreciation for the way Meninga was managing the situation so far, the arrival of sudden-death football means the time for experimentation is over.

“I think Mal is being very diplomatic the whole way through,” Cronk said.

“I think he's been leaning towards Cleary from the start.

“Cherry-Evans is the incumbent but I don't think you can knock back the log book of work that Cleary has done in the last two years. He deserves it and I think he'll be the halfback.