Meninga says Fifita still in RLWC plans

Critics believe Andrew Fifita has not done enough since State of Origin but Australia coach Mal Meninga believes the maligned NSW prop is trying too hard.

Meninga says Fifita is still in his 2017 World Cup plans despite a perceived form lapse since his match-winning heroics in NSW’s record Origin I win in May.

Fifita will hope to regain his NRL spark in defending premiers Cronulla’s clash with an injury-hit North Queensland in Townsville on Saturday.

Cronulla have lost four of their past seven games, leaving their top-four hopes in limbo with three rounds to play.

Meninga says Fifita is not the only NSW player to suffer a post-Origin slump and denies the barnstorming prop had played himself out of World Cup favour.

“Not at all. I think a lot of players have struggled after Origin to be honest with you,” he told Fox Sports’ Queenslanders Only.

“Andrew might be trying too hard. You see footage of him dropping the footy and he is just dirty with himself and that is a good sign in my opinion.

“But there was a lull after Origin particularly for the NSW players. That self-belief and confidence has been damaged a little bit.

“Leading into finals they will find a way to get back into form.

“They are not playing poorly but they are not where they should be, but Andrew is a great player.”

Fifita was confident the looming finals would bring out his best.

“It’s about leading my team now,” he said.

“It’s time for myself and a few of the other boys in this team to start standing up.

“It’s the best time of year. I missed out one year (2014) in a finals series … It was the worst. I never want to miss a finals series ever again.”

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