Every morning when Penrith flyer Josh Mansour wakes up, he looks at the green and gold jersey hanging on his wall and resolves that he’s got unfinished business.
Preparing for Saturday’s NRL semi-final against Canberra, Mansour’s scintillating form has him poised to take care of that business by ending a two-year absence from the Australian squad.
The 26-year-old made four Test appearances for the Kangaroos during their unsuccessful 2014 Four Nations campaign.
Critics would say that Kangaroos team was racked by injury and Mansour was lucky to have made his international debut, with the likes of Billy Slater, Justin Hodges, Darius Boyd, Brett Morris, Josh Dugan and Will Hopoate among the big names to miss the tournament.
However he has no time for such talk and his Australian jumper takes pride of place on his bedroom wall.
“Absolutely,” says Mansour when asked if suggestions that he didn’t really earn his international debut were unfair.
“To play with those players like Cooper Cronk, Cameron Smith, Greg Inglis, that gave me a lot of confidence.
“But the most important thing is you’re representing your country, there’s no higher honour than that.”
Now Mansour is close to earning back his place in that squad and doing what few have achieved in recent years – pushing Semi Radradra out of his way.
On the back of a stellar season, which saw him earn his NSW debut, Mansour is poised to displace injury and drama-plagued Parramatta winger Radradra and grab the left wing position for Australia’s end-of-season Four Nations tour of England.
He has been a tower of strength for the Panthers this season and a big reason behind their charge to within two games of the grand final.
He has managed the second-ost metres of all players this year (174m per game), only behind Warriors fullback Roger Tuivasa-Sheck (who averaged 175m from just 11 games before being struck down with injury).
He holds the joint league lead for linebreaks (25), is fourth for tackle busts (111) and is seventh on the try-scoring list with 16, according to Fox Sports Stats.
He described earning an Australian jumper as the most important milestone in his career and a summit he hoped to visit again.
“”It’s one of the most special moments of my career and one that I will definitely look back on with pride,” Mansour said.
“I just want to achieve it again, I just want to keep working hard for it.”