Canberra coach Ricky Stuart believes Josh Papalii deserves a spot in the Australian side for next month’s Anzac Test after an impressive start to the NRL season.
But the big man himself said his mind was not on the Kangaroos jersey.
Papalii put on another solid performance for the Raiders in Saturday’s 60-6 routing of Wests Tigers at GIO Stadium, making 15 runs for 167m.
It was a well-timed showing, with new Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga in the stands as one of more than 100 past players invited to the ground for a club reunion.
Meninga is set to announce his team for the upcoming Test on Tuesday.
“I’d love to see Josh represent Australia,” Stuart said.
“I think it’ll be a little bit of icing on the cake in regards to the way he’s started the season, because he’s been very consistent for us and doing all the little things off the field right, too.
“That’s what you have to do and he’s doing that so well this year. From the first day he turned up to pre-season training he’s just been very professional and elite in his preparation.”
Papalii has played for Australia eight times, but not since the Four Nations in 2014.
“I’m not really thinking about that,” the 23-year-old said.
“My footy will do the talking and if I play well, then that’s what I can hope for.
“If I don’t get picked I don’t get picked, but if I get picked I get picked.”
But the Auckland-born forward said his consistent start to 2016 has been most satisfying.
“It’s been a better start than the last two or three years,” he said.
“I was a bit overweight and a bit slower. I’ve played s*** and then all of a sudden form went down and now I’m back up.”