Brent Tate’s experience and versatility have earned the veteran centre a recall to Australian side to face Fiji in Saturday’s Rugby League World Cup semi-final.
Tate has emerged victorious in a three-way selection battle for the left centre spot opened up following fullback Billy Slater knee injury in the quarter-final win over the United States.
The 31-year-old North Queensland player was on Wednesday included in a 19-man squad named for the semi-final at Wembley, with specialist left-sided centres Michael Jennings and Josh Morris missing out.
Tate admitted to being crushed at losing his right centre spot to Jarryd Hayne in the 62-0 win over the US but Slater’s injury opened the door for a recall with Greg Inglis shifting to fullback.
“It’s never easy to be sitting on the sidelines so to be back there is great,” Tate said.
“Obviously playing at Wembley and playing in a game that’s as big as this one, I’m stoked.
“I’m thankful for the opportunity and that’s all it is. I’m not looking to go out there and do anything other than my job and do it well.”
Kangaroos coach Tim Sheens said there wasn’t much between Tate, Jennings and Morris in the selection battle.
The decision to go with 25-Test veteran Tate, despite him usually playing on the right, came down to his experience and the fact he’d played alongside winger Darius Boyd in State of Origin for Queensland.
“He becomes a bit of a utility if I have an issue with the backs as well,” Sheens said.
With Slater battling to return from injury in time for next week’s final, Tate now has a crack at securing his place in the side should Australia book a place in the decider at Old Trafford.
Tate is desperate to be part of a World Cup final, having missed the 2008 tournament decider with a quad strain.
“That’s been playing on my mind a fair bit to be honest, missing that final in 2008,” Tate said.
“It’s a huge game and at the end of the day when you’re looking back at your career, they are the things you’re look back at with a smile on your face.
“I guess now I’ve got a bit of a chance and it’s in my control.”
Sydney Roosters forward Boyd Corner was the other man omitted from the squad, with fellow rookie Josh Papalii and Nate Myles likely battling for a place on the bench.
Robbie Farah was included in the squad but it’s unlikely he will oust Daly Cherry-Evans for the interchange utility spot.
Australian 19-man squad:
Cameron Smith (capt), Paul Gallen (vc), Greg Bird, Darius Boyd, Daly Cherry-Evans, Cooper Cronk, Robbie Farah, Andrew Fifita, Jarryd Hayne, Greg Inglis, Brett Morris, Nate Myles, Josh Papalii, Corey Parker, Matthew Scott, James Tamou, Brent Tate, Sam Thaiday, Johnathan Thurston.