McKinnon inspires Scott Test recall

Ferocious Newcastle back-rower Beau Scott has expressed his appreciation for his blessed life as he gears up for his first Kangaroos appearance for Australia since his debut in 2011.

Scott, the 2014 Dally M Second-Rower of the Year and an integral member of New South Wales's drought-breaking Origin win, gained further appreciation of his way of life after witnessing teammate Alex McKinnon suffer a spinal injury back in Round 3 of the NRL season.

McKinnon's injury and continuing rehabilitation has been a "real eye opener" for Scott, who is full of pride for the way the 22-year-old has handled such a difficult situation.

"Seeing Alex go through what he has gone through...[showed] how lucky I am to do what I do and wake up every morning and play with the kids and go to work and live a normal life," Scott told NRL.com.

"If anything I'm grateful for the lifestyle that I get to live, and having the opportunity to play football every week is a bonus I guess.

"Alex has been an inspiration for me and how he has handled the whole situation... it is a real credit to the kind of person Alex is considering the obstacles that have been thrown at him."

The stirring figure McKinnon has become in such a short space of time has coincided with Scott's career-best form.

With Tim Sheens earmarking Scott as one of the forwards to rattle the Kiwis' cages on Saturday, the veteran was happy to label 2014 a "positive year" personally.

"I played in more rep teams this season than I have in any year of my career. Turning 30 this year, people probably think the older you get the more you start to head downhill but it has been the opposite for me," Scott said.

"It was probably one of my better years in the NRL so this [Four Nations berth] probably caps off the year for me."

Any Novocastrian presence in the Australian squad has usually been in the form of players such as Kurt Gidley and Darius Boyd in recent times.

However when you run the rule over the current Kangaroos squad, Newcastle finds itself represented instead by the hard-hitting back-rower and 18-year-old rookie Sione Mata'utia.

The Picton Magpies junior acknowledged his excitement for young Mata'utia, and said the seven-game NRL rookie's demeanour pushed him to the heights he has reached so early in his career.

Mata'utia, who impressed Australian coach Tim Sheens, Scott and his fellow senior teammates in Papua New Guinea with the Prime Minister's XIII, is ahead of his time if you ask his Knights teammate.

"Sione is a very mature 18-year-old and the way he goes about his football, not just what you see on the field, but off the field as well – he is streets ahead of all the other kids he plays with in the [under-]20s," Scott said.

"That's probably why he is going to keep improving on the player he already is. It is pretty impressive.

"Obviously being around Sione for the past 12 months or so I already knew what kind of kid he was."

Scott said Mata'utia's efforts in PNG had opened people's eyes to what he is capable of.

"That's why he is here with the opportunity to pull on the Australian jumper," Scott added.