Nick Cotric and Emre Guler lead Kangaroos' next gen
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Nick Cotric and Emre Guler lead Kangaroos' next gen

Emre Guler has played just three NRL games to Nick Cotric's 48, but Junior Kangaroos coach Neil Henry has declared they can both be stars of the future amidst Australian rugby league's changing of the guard.

The Raiders duo have been named in a Junior Kangaroos squad featuring 11 players with NRL experience to meet the Junior Kiwis at Mt Smart Stadium on October 13.

Emre Guler will will play for the Junior Kangaroos.

Emre Guler will will play for the Junior Kangaroos.

They aren't the only members of the Green Machine in line for representative honours with Henry revealing Corey Horsburgh will join the squad after being deemed eligible despite a recent suspension.

Guler is one of five incumbents from last year's Junior Kangaroos squad, as is premiership-winning Sydney Roosters star Victor Radley - should he pass a medical.

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Henry says their Junior Kangaroos stint will be a vital stepping stone as they set their sights on higher honours during a time of change in the senior ranks.

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The loss of 120 Tests worth of experience in Cameron Smith, Cooper Cronk and Billy Slater means the time has come for a regeneration of the Australian spine through Damien Cook, Daly Cherry-Evans and James Tedesco.

The loss of Australian staples opens the door for Mal Meninga to flick the "pick and stick" policy and pick players on form, which Henry says is welcome news for the next generation cutting their teeth in the Junior Kangaroos side.

"Mal has certainly had a changing of the guard with the senior team because of retirements," Henry said.

"With the World Cup a few years away, some of these young guys that are starting to play NRL now, there is an opportunity for them to get into an extended squad moving forward over the next couple of seasons if they get more NRL experience under their belt. There’s always got to be a plan moving forward for the senior team.

"What we’re trying to do is get a link between the Junior Kangaroos and the senior squad, and a number of these guys will get experience playing for the Prime Minister’s XIII next week.

"Nick is one of those, so it’ll be good for him as a stepping stone. Mal is quite keen to have the Junior Kangaroos as a pathway through to the senior team.

Canberra Raiders speedster Nick Cotric.

Canberra Raiders speedster Nick Cotric.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

"Nick, being a regular in first grade and Dally M rookie of the year in 2017, he’ll be one of the senior guys in the [Junior Kangaroos] team.

"Emre got three [NRL] games late in the season which will be great for his experience. I thought he held his own, he added a bit of punch when he came off the bench and he did his job for Ricky [Stuart] and the team.

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"I didn’t think he looked too out of place, he handled his time on the field and made his tackles, he carries the ball well, he finds his front and he’s got good leg speed. He’ll be handy for us."

The junior representative showdown will be the first of three Australia-New Zealand clash in Auckland, with the Jillaroos-Kiwi Ferns and Kangaroos-Kiwis clashes to follow.

But first on Cotric's radar is a chance to shine for the Prime Minister's XIII against Papua New Guinea in his first senior representative outing.

Raiders stars Jordan Rapana and Joe Tapine have been named in Michael Maguire's squad for the Kiwis' looming Test campaign, with a three-match series against England to follow a date with the world champions.

Caden Helmers is a sports reporter for The Canberra Times

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