Mbye firming as shock Four Nations selection
Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga's reluctance to take a second hooker as back-up for Cameron Smith has put Bulldogs half Moses Mbye in line for a shock call-up, with Meninga describing Mbye as a "genuine" No.9.
Mbye will get an opportunity to further press his case when he comes off the interchange bench for a star-studded Prime Minister's XIII against the Papua New Guinea Prime Minister's XIII in Port Moresby on Saturday.
Meninga has named the same three-quarter line that played the Anzac Test against New Zealand in May for the clash with PNG along with seven other players who participated in this year's Origin series in one of the strongest Australian teams to ever tour PNG.
An unabashed fan of having a player capable of covering a number of different positions on the bench, Meninga handed Michael Morgan his Test debut against the Kiwis earlier this year and hinted that he may lean towards taking an extra utility rather than an out-and-out No.9 such as PM's XIII hooker Jake Friend in his squad of 24 to tour England.
"We're discussing it at the moment. That's why we've got Jake Friend in the team," Meninga said. "It's a tough decision for us to make, whether we do take two nines.
"Moses has poked his head through and I think he's a genuine nine but there are some really quality other nines in the competition as well.
"Moses can play in the halves, I've seen him play centres before, he's played fullback before so that versatility enables them to be put into the picture around selection time.
"I'm a big fan of the 14 role. I'm a big fan of carrying a player that can play in the halves, nine, play in the back row if need be, play in the centres, play fullback.
"If they can do that then they're pretty valuable players and I reckon it aids their selection, particularly on a tour."
Eight members of the Anzac Test team are in action this weekend in the preliminary finals while the five Broncos who played against the Kiwis bowed out last weekend and were not considered for selection for the trip to PNG.
Historically fringe selection candidates have been able to play their way onto end-of-season tours with big performances for their club teams at finals time.
The likes of Gavin Cooper, Wade Graham and Justin O'Neill all made their Origin debuts this year while Canberra pair Jarrod Croker and Joey Leilua have been two of the best performed centres in the competition all season.
But Meninga has vowed to stay loyal to those who have represented the green and gold with distinction in the past.
"Playing in the back-end of the year is important but it is part of the parameters of the selection process," Meninga said.
"Obviously loyalty is a factor and how well they've performed in the jersey before. Origin's a factor, there's no doubt about that.
"If we want to be genuine about our selection process those other rep games are important to future selections.
"That's the way we want to get it. We want to get it domestic competition and then Origin as part of the stepping stone to playing for Australia."
That's not to say those wearing the green and gold can't do their future selection prospects plenty of good with a good showing against a bruising PNG team.
"It's a full-on trial. Players are on notice that their performance matters on this trip," said Meninga.
"They all understand that there's an opportunity for them and it's not only Four Nations.
"They're putting their best foot forward for next year's Anzac Test and World Cup as well.
"This performance matters to their future selection."