‘Right in the picture’: Suaalii’s Kangaroos dream alive as Meninga drops huge selection hint

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Staff Writers from Fox Sports

Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga has dropped his biggest selection hint yet, revealing Roosters young gun Joseph Suaalii is a “genuine selection option”.

Meninga has a big job on his hands ahead of this year’s World Cup, with a number of players opting to represent their nation of heritage as opposed to the Kangaroos.

Maroons gun Josh Papalii will reportedly ply his trade for Samoa, joining Jarome Luai and Brian To’o, while Felise Kaufusi, Siosifa Talakai, Daniel Tupou and Kotoni Staggs are set to represent Tonga.

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But in a huge boost, the Kangaroos are set to pick the Tricolours 19-year-old flyer in the Australian squad — should he chose to represent his country of birth.

Suaalii is currently in his first full season of first grade and was included in Brad Fittler’s Blues squad, scoring 13 NRL tries to date.

“I’m a fan of Joseph, absolutely, and he is right in the picture, particularly if the Roosters keep their run going to the finals,” Meninga said to the SMH.

“He is a genuine selection option, definitely. He’s just a talent. He always has been a talent. I like his courage.

“I remember ‘Izzy’ (Israel Folau) came in at a young age, so did ‘GI’ (Greg Inglis), so if you’re talking about age, there are no questions about Joseph handling the international stage.”

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Meninga also referenced reports suggesting Australia’s rival code were in pursuit of the young gun, revealing it is “hardly a shock” the Wallabies could make a play.

“I read the reports that the Wallabies are looking at him, which is hardly a shock. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they weren’t looking at league players like him and wanting him to convert,” Meninga said.

“We do the same thing. Because Joseph has played union before, it only made it inevitable. He’s right in the mix for us.”

The Kangaroos incumbent wingers from their last game played in 2019 are Josh Addo-Carr and Nick Cotric.

With Cotric is unlikely to feature, and Addo-Carr being tipped for selection on the edge, Suaalii could find himself in the green and gold.

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Suaalii made his intentions clear earlier in the week, making it clear he wants to compete in the end-of-year showcase.

“I honestly haven’t thought about it too much but I want to be there playing at the World Cup,” Suaalii said.

“I’m trying to make that Australian team and if I’m lucky enough I’ll make that Samoan team as well.

“If I get picked for either of them it would be an honour. If I’m playing at the World Cup I’ll be happy.”