Maloney zeroes in on Kangaroos debut

James Maloney could be rewarded for his stellar NRL season with a spot on the Kangaroos bench for Saturday’s Test against New Zealand in Perth.

Cronulla five-eighth Maloney was a key figure in the Sharks’ maiden NRL premiership win.

He is being considered by coach Mal Meninga as a utility interchange player for the nib Stadium clash against the Kiwis.

Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk are automatic selections in the Kangaroos halves. But Thurston said he could see Maloney making his Australian debut from the bench.

“Jimmy could do that easily, he likes the contact part of the sport so he could fill in a number of positions if need be,” Thurston said on Monday

“It is a tough decision for Mal to make.”

Cronk added: “James Maloney will have every opportunity to prove his case and warrant selection.

“There is a spot on the bench for a utility that James will come into contention for.”

However, Maloney will face stiff competition for that bench utility spot from North Queensland playmaker Michael Morgan.

Morgan has played off the bench in the role under Meninga for Queensland and the Kangaroos.

“Mal has a few options there,” Thurston said.

“Morgo has filled that role for him at Origin level and earlier this year.”

The Kangaroos trained for the first time in Perth on Monday afternoon at the University of Western Australia.

Valentine Holmes filled Semi Radradra’s vacant left wing spot. Radradra was banned from selection due to allegations of domestic assault.

Greg Inglis is absent from Kangaroos camp, attending the birth of his child in Sydney.

Justin O’Neill filled in at left centre for Inglis.

It also up front where Meninga has a number of selection decisions to make. Trent Merrin appears in line to assume Corey Parker’s lock position.

While Shannon Boyd is likely to start at prop alongside Matt Scott in the absence of Aaron Woods, who like Josh Mansour gets married on Saturday.

The Australians have a rest day on Tuesday, before holding their main training session on Wednesday.

The Australians leave for Britain for the Four Nations on Thursday week.

“This is all about us getting together and getting our preparation right for the Four Nations tour,” Thurston said.

“There are a lot of new faces in the squad and we have to get them up to speed as to the type of football we want to be playing.

“There is a lot of work to do.”

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