Australian skipper Cameron Smith says we haven’t seen the last of Andrew Fifita and Semi Radradra in the green and gold jumper.
Smith says he hopes to see Fifita and Radradra in the Australian squad in the near future despite the trouble-plagued pair back being blacklisted for the Four Nations tour.
Fifita was left out after creating a storm of controversy for writing a message of support for convicted one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge on his wrist strapping.
Radradra has pleaded not guilty to domestic violence charges and management were concerned it would prove a distraction.
Smith said he supported coach Mal Meninga and the NRL’s decision not to consider the pair for selection, however he believed they could earn back their spots in the squad.
“Those two guys, they have issues away from football that they need to sort out,” Smith said.
“I think it’s the correct decision that’s been made by the NRL for those guys not to be available for this tour. And the (Rugby League Players’ Association) have backed it as well.
“I’m hopeful that they’ll have the opportunity to represent Australia again because they’re both very talented footballers – we’ve seen that this season.
“I’m sure that if they work hard, then they’ll get an opportunity to play again.”
Fifita and Radradra both have an uphill battle to earn back their spots after Meninga selected a 24-man squad with an eye to the future.
Meninga showed his hand by not selecting veteran Corey Parker and Paul Gallen and Smith said he hoped to keep this squad together until next year’s World Cup.
“Twelve months away, we’re not sure where all these players are going to be at physically and form-wise. You need to be playing well first and foremost,” Smith said.
“The best thing about Mal is he likes stability. I like stability. If you can have a successful tournament this year, then I’d like to think we can go on and keep this group together and start building.”