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Hunt and Boyd in, Stewart out for 'Roos

16/10/2008 07:42:17 PM Comments (0)

With sexual assault allegations still hanging over their heads, Karmichael Hunt and Darius Boyd have earned controversial Kangaroos call-ups after a cruel injury blow to Manly flyer Brett Stewart.

The Brisbane pair have been named as replacements in Australia's World Cup squad after Stewart's withdrawal with a shoulder injury followed Wednesday's news that Broncos centre Justin Hodges would require a shoulder reconstruction.

The selections of Hunt and Boyd came after they and Broncos teammate Sam Thaiday were questioned by Queensland Police last month over an alleged incident at a Brisbane nightclub.

Police have concluded the investigation but say it will be weeks before it's known if any charges will be laid.

Hunt was considered unlucky to miss out on the original 24-man World Cup squad and it was speculated that his omission may have related to the investigations, but his and Boyd's selection put that to rest.

Australian Rugby League chief executive Geoff Carr said the pair were simply determined to be the best replacements available.

"All we can say is that players have been selected on merit," Carr said.

"The players haven't been charged and if they are charged we will deal with it at the time."

Stewart is reportedly "shattered" at having to withdraw from the squad and will miss the chance to play in the World Cup alongside his brother and Manly teammate Glenn.

Although Melbourne's Billy Slater may have been favoured as first-choice Australian fullback, Stewart's inclusion in the World Cup squad would have been the icing on the cake in another spectacular season for the prolific try scorer.

The NSW fullback had been struggling in recent weeks with the shoulder injury, which had restricted his ability to do weight training and resulted in him losing power.

"It looked like it was settling down and he went and did some training and it flared up so the poor bugger's out," Australian team doctor Hugh Hazzard said, adding it would be up to the Sea Eagles to decide whether he would undergo surgery.

Australian coach Ricky Stuart said he felt for the grand final-winning fullback but welcomed the selections of Hunt and Boyd.

"It's disappointing for Brett," Stuart said.

"... We've got two Origin players and one debutant which will add a lot of enthusiasm to the camp."

Hunt was a logical replacement for Stewart, while Boyd's selection caps a remarkable year for the St George Illawarra-bound utility after he earned a State of Origin call-up and scored two tries on his Queensland debut.

His selection to replace Hodges came after Dragons centre Matt Cooper was ruled out as a possible replacement due to injury while the ARL had also ruled out picking Penrith youngster Michael Jennings or Sea Eagles winger Michael Robertson, who were named in the Tongan and Scottish squads respectively.

Both Hunt and Boyd will join the rest of the squad when it enters camp in Sydney on Sunday.

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