Despite a decorated career that has delivered him two NRL premierships in the past four years, James Maloney had given up on representing Australia.
As a result, the Cronulla and Sydney Roosters premiership winner was genuinely shocked when he was called up to Australia’s 24-man squad for the Four Nations.
NSW playmaker Maloney joined the Kangaroos in camp on Thursday in Coogee.
“It awesome – it is a massive honour,” Maloney said.
“But it came as a massive shock. It wasn’t something I was expecting. It was something I never thought I would get.”
Maloney has been key to both the success of the Roosters in recent seasons and Cronulla’s surge to their maiden NRL title this year.
But his path to the Kangaroos’ halves has been blocked by Johnathan Thurston and Cooper Cronk.
However, Australian coach Mal Meninga has assured Maloney he will get to wear the green and gold when their Four Nations campaign kicks off later this month in Britain.
“I am just so stoked to be here,” Maloney said.
“With the premiership and now this, it has been a pretty special week.
“To be in the top 20 or so players in the game is pretty amazing.
“I am pretty surprised.”
Maloney said he was still coming to terms with the selection.
“I wasn’t even watching the announcement of the team,” he said.
“Then, all of a sudden, my phone was going crazy with all these messages.
“And then I got the text to tell me to come into camp.
“It is all a bit surreal.”