In another lifetime, Josh Mansour would’ve been playing with a Teddy instead of a Matty. And the NRL world would’ve been a vastly different place.
But the Penrith star insists he has no regrets turning down a lucrative NRL offer from Ricky Stuart in 2014 to become one of his cornerstones in Canberra.
Both Mansour and Wests Tigers star James Tedesco were brazenly photographed touring the nation’s capital two years ago that would’ve jump-started Stuart’s rebuild of the Green Machine.
However the pair, both of whom made their NSW State of Origin debuts this year, ultimately turned him down.
“With me and Teddy there, we would’ve changed their backline,” Mansour told AAP ahead of Saturday’s semi-final between the Panthers and Raiders at GIO Stadium.
“But you know what, those guys they have got down there have been outstanding this year and I’m sure they’ll keep performing for that team.
“It’s crazy when you think about it now. But at the end of the day, I don’t regret the decision I made.”
He recalled making the tough phone call to Stuart two years ago, when he explained that he simply couldn’t move further away from his family in Sydney.
The winger opted to remain with the Panthers, continuing a blossoming career that has included a Kangaroos jumper two years ago, and a maiden Blues jumper this year.
“It was difficult to knock him back. At the time, I thought of Ricky an outstanding coach and has done great things for that club,” Mansour said.
“But family was the most important factor in my decision. I just couldn’t go away from that. He understood totally and I’m really pleased with that.
“My heart was here.”
His career trajectory has only steepened since his Blues debut, leading his side to a stirring elimination final victory over Canterbury that has catapulted them into premiership contention.
His combination with skipper Matt Moylan in particular was at its flamboyant best on Sunday, and both could now be in line to make the Kangaroos squad for October’s Four Nations tour.
“I’ve got to credit (Moylan’s) silky hands – they have rubbed off on me. The team’s performance has allowed me to play the way I’m playing. And I’m just playing what’s in front of me,” he said.