Meninga backs Tedesco but keeps close eye on Origin

Melissa Woods |

Coach Mal Meninga says James Tedesco can be picked for Australia despite missing out on Origin II.
Coach Mal Meninga says James Tedesco can be picked for Australia despite missing out on Origin II.

Coach Mal Meninga says State of Origin isn’t the only measure for Kangaroos selection with James Tedesco able to keep the Test captaincy despite missing NSW selection.

Former Queensland great Meninga and ex-Blues star Laurie Daley were in Melbourne to promote game two of the State of Origin series at the MCG on Wednesday night.

Opponents in the first Origin match at the MCG back in 1994, the pair, along, with AFL legend Dermott Brereton, recreated a promotional image on a tram on Wednesday.

Laurie Daley, Dermott Brereton and Meninga.
Laurie Daley, Dermott Brereton and Mal Meninga recreate a 1994 photo in Melbourne. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

Donning his Australian coach cap, Meninga said there were plenty of factors apart from Origin that would count towards selection for the Pacific Nations Championship later this year.

Asked if Tedesco, who made way for Dylan Edwards in the NSW line-up, could captain Australia if he wasn’t in the Origin mix Meninga said he could.

“Loyalty and club form is is really important as well,” Meninga said.

“Just because you don’t play Origin, it doesn’t mean you’re going to miss out.

“Origin finishes at the middle of July and then the competition goes to the end of October, so a lot of things can happen in that sort of 10 week period.”

Meninga played 33 times for the Maroons, retiring after the 1994 series which was won by NSW, who lost the first match in Sydney, levelled at the MCG, and then upset Queensland on home turf.

Daley donned the NSW jersey 23 times and said he recalled the desperation of the Blues in the 1994 MCG match, which they won 14-0.

Laurie Daley, Dermott Brereton and Mal Meninga.
Former Origin skippers Laurie Daley and Mal Meninga bookend AFL premiership winner Dermott Brereton. (Con Chronis/AAP PHOTOS)

“We were able to take the series back up to Brisbane, but we were just desperate,” Daley said.

“I think that’s what NSW will do Wednesday night, they’ll be very desperate because they need to win to keep the series alive. That would be one of the reasons why we can win.

“I think this NSW team has got more points in them than game two, with (Stephen) Crichton and (Latrell) Mitchell in the centres it’s got a bit of wow factor.

“It looks a more rounded team and I’m hoping that we can start well and start fast and put Queensland under pressure which will give us confidence.”