Has Hindmarsh earned a Test recall?
Parramatta back-rower Nathan Hindmarsh could be playing for more than a premiership when he lines up against the Gold Coast tonight, with Australian coach Tim Sheens claiming the door was open for a return to the Test arena next month.<br><br>A veteran of 16 games for NSW and 20 Tests, Hindmarsh has been snubbed by representative selectors over the past two seasons and was a glaring omission from a 40-man preliminary NSW squad in May.<br><br>His fall from grace has been as sudden as it has surprising, given that his form for Parramatta has remained as strong as ever.<br><br>But new Kangaroos coach Sheens, who took over from Ricky Stuart at the start of the year, told NRL.com that Hindmarsh was back in the selectors’ sights with the Eels surging into premiership contention.<br><br>“I am always of the opinion that you’re never too old as long as you’re playing good footy,” Sheens said of the 30-year-old. <br><br>“I heard Nathan say the other day that it’s difficult because the back row for Australia is an area where we’re going to have to leave some very good players out, but the bonus for Nathan is that he is still in the semis and is still playing. <br><br>“He can continually show that he is in good touch and that puts him in the mix more and more. <br><br>“The longer he survives and the better Parramatta goes, the more chance he has because there are a lot of guys with me (in camp) at the moment that finished two weeks ago. <br><br>“That’s to his advantage.”<br><br>Ironically, it seems that Hindmarsh has a far better chance of clawing his way back into the Test side than the NSW team.<br><br>The Blues made it clear this year that their focus was now on building a side for the future and blooded 12 rookies across the three games, but Sheens said his only concern was putting together the best side for next month’s Four Nations.<br><br>“The future is now,” he said of his role as Test coach. “You don’t worry about blooding a bloke for two years’ time. <br><br>“If you have a 30-year-old or a 32-year-old playing well, he only has to play four games for me. <br><br>“We’re not talking about what we’re going to be doing in two years’ time. <br><br>“It’s a bit different at club level where you might be building a side over time – with a rep side it’s about the next game. <br><br>“That said, the form has to be much, much better than the incumbent but Nathan has been there before – he’s not a rookie.”<br><br>Asked if that meant the door was ajar, Sheens said: “I don’t close the door on anyone – I’ve never done it in my career as a coach with my club so I wouldn’t do it at rep level.”<br><br>Sheens met with players already named in the Kangaroos’ train-on squad for the first time on Wednesday, with a final 22-man Four Nations touring squad to be announced after this year’s grand final. <br><br>Although the ultimate decision will come down to selectors Bob Fulton, Bob McCarthy, Les Geeves and Des Morris, Sheens said he expected to have some influence in finalising his squad.<br><br>“My voice will be listened to,” he said. “I’m not the major voice but at the same time you’re not ignored either.<br><br>“In so many positions we have choices so it will come down to a consensus on those sorts of things.<br><br>“We’ll weight up things such as loyalty to the guys already in the current side – which has always been a tradition in rep sides – as well as current form and injury.<br><br>“I’ll listen to the selectors and they’ll listen to me – if it comes down to a split I think the coach’s voice is always heard a bit louder.”<br><b><br>Late news:</b><br><br>• Parramatta centre Krisnan Inu has been ruled out of tonight’s clash with the Gold Coast after failing to overcome a hamstring strain; and<br>• Mat Rogers, William Zillman and Preston Campbell are all in some doubt for the Titans, although all are likely to play.