Brad Fittler accused Latrell Mitchell of taking some soft options against Tonga.
Brad Fittler accused Latrell Mitchell of taking some soft options against Tonga.

‘Let the jersey down’: NRL greats blast Kangaroos

Brad Fittler and Andrew Johns have blasted the Kangaroos for failing to show enough respect to the opposition in Tonga's boilover 16-12 victory at Eden Park.

Australia led 12-6 at halftime, but second half tries to Michael Jennings and Tevita Pangai Jr sealed a memorable come from behind win for Tonga.

Fittler believes a number of Australian players were guilty of looking ahead to their off-seasons.

"I think a few of the Australians were just waiting for the season to finish," Fittler said.

"If Mal is fair dinkum he is looking at that game and thinking we might need a few new players here because I thought some of their efforts were just terrible.

"They didn't put their hands up in big moments and took really easy options and let each other down.

"They let Australia down, they let the jersey down and it was a really poor standard.

"They set a great standard down in Illawarra and they just didn't back it up at all, so there is a good chance a few of these guys won't be there next year."

Fittler singled out Daly Cherry-Evans and Latrell Mitchell for criticism after the Kangaroos failed to score a point in the second half.

Fittler dropped Mitchell from his Blues side for failing to provide maximum effort on every play and he was again guilty of drifting in and out of the contest against Tonga.

Cherry-Evans failed to direct his team around the park and ice the win after they were in the box seat early in the second half.

"Daly Cherry-Evans wasn't doing anything in attack," Fittler said.

"He was giving no direction, but his defence was giving them so much trouble. He left poor Jack Wighton and a few of them stranded at different times.

"Latrell Mitchell came up with some bad errors and some really soft options.

"It wasn't just the young blokes, it was a mixture, but there were just some guys out there that wanted the season to be over."


Daly Cherry-Evans struggled in defence and attack against Tonga.
Daly Cherry-Evans struggled in defence and attack against Tonga.

Johns accused Australia of taking their opposition lightly after they went down 6-0 early on the back of a soft try to Will Hopoate.

Australia missed 25 tackles and were guilty of not getting off their line with enough urgency.

"I don't think Australia respected the opposition," Johns said.

"It was the last game and I think they were thinking they would roll the sleeves up for 20 minutes and they would get the job done.

"I think they need to have a real hard look at themselves some of the guys."

However Johns was quick to praise Tonga, who took the game to Australia from the first whistle to come away with a historic first-ever win over the Kangaroos.

"Tonga were sensational and thoroughly deserved their win," Johns said.

"The Tongan players the way the represented their people and their jersey.

"They have made some sacrifices over the last couple of years, which has cost the individuals a lot of money not playing Origin and for Australia, but they have stuck together and they are all brothers.

"They talk about that. Well done to everyone behind the scenes they thoroughly deserved it and I think it is sensational."