Ma­roon’s Ori­gin cam­paign de­but im­presses World Cup coach Meninga

Napa in Test reck­on­ing

Townsville Bulletin - - SPORT - PETER BADEL

AUS­TRALIA coach Mal Meninga says Ma­roons en­forcer Dy­lan Napa is in the frame for a Test de­but and could steal NSW ri­val An­drew Fi­fita’s Kan­ga­roos jumper for the World Cup.

Napa will con­tinue his march to a maiden green- and­gold jumper when Queens­land’s Roost­ers fire­brand squares off against Cow­boys hulk Ja­son Tau­malolo in a mid­field bat­tle on Satur­day night in Syd­ney.

Meninga has put Kan­ga­roos front- row in­cum­bent Fi­fita on no­tice af­ter over­look­ing the Blues hard­man in his in- au­gu­ral Aus­tralian merit squad named last Sunday week.

That has opened the door for Napa, who joined David Klem­mer in the merit squad’s start­ing front row af­ter an out­stand­ing de­but Ori­gin cam­paign.

Tau­malolo is a key weapon in New Zealand’s World Cup plans and if Napa can dom­i­nate him in a bat­tle of the giants at Al­lianz Sta­dium, it will fur­ther con­vince Meninga.

“I saw Dy­lan per­form well for Queens­land and that tells me he can per­form for Aus­tralia,” Meninga said.

“I picked Dy­lan Napa in the merit squad be­cause his per­for­mance through the Ori­gin series got bet­ter as it went on.

“He should see this ( be­ing picked in the Kan­ga­roos merit squad) as a gen­uine sign he is be­ing con­sid­ered for Aus­tralia, ab­so­lutely.

“Dy­lan and the rest of the squad are in the fore­thoughts of the ( Aus­tralia) se­lec­tors and when we sit around the ta­ble, that merit team will be con­sid­ered.”

Broncos coach Wayne Ben­nett helped cre­ate the Queens­land Emerg­ing Ori­gin pro­gram that two years ago iden­ti­fied Napa as a fu­ture Ma­roon.

The 24- year- old vin­di­cated the QAS- backed groom­ing process this year with a fine three- game Ori­gin cam­paign, amass­ing 307 me­tres and 75 tack­les in Queens­land’s en­gine room.

Ben­nett praised Napa’s maiden Ori­gin cam­paign and be­lieves the 109kg Roost­ers hit­man would rel­ish be­ing a mem­ber of Aus­tralia’s 24- man World Cup squad.

“He has al­ways been on Queens­land’s radar,” Ben­nett said. “He was enor­mous in this Ori­gin series, I wasn’t sur­prised how he played.

“He would be great for Aus­tralia. He is a typ­i­cal fron­trower, fear­less and tough – he is ex­actly what you want as a coach.”

Fi­fita can clinch a World Cup squad berth with a bumper fi­nals series but Meninga ad­mits Napa rep­re­sents the poster boy for the fresh blood he must bring to an age­ing Aus­tralian team.

“In the past, I’ve al­ways been keen on loy­alty but we are go­ing through some gen­er­a­tional change, not only in Ori­gin but with the na­tional side,” Meninga said.

“An­drew was well con­tained in the fi­nal two Ori­gin games. The Queens­land for­wards led by Josh McGuire, Matt Gil­lett, Napa and Cam Smith aimed up and that’s why I chose them in the merit squad, be­cause they did well to shut down Fi­fita.”

Kan­ga­roos hope­ful Dy­lan Napa.

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