Aussie great hails Mansour call-up
Former Kangaroos winger Rod Wishart has revealed how he encouraged Panthers flyer Josh Mansour to persevere with his representative ambitions as the 24-year-old prepares to make his Test debut against New Zealand on Saturday night.
Overlooked by Blues selectors for this year's State of Origin Series, the South Sydney discard has won a stunning Test call-up on the back of two superb seasons with the Panthers with some encouraging words from Wishart helping to further fuel Mansour's determination.
Since joining the Panthers in 2012, Mansour has scored 26 tries in 50 appearances but it is his tackle-busting bursts out of dummy-half that shapes as a much-needed weapon for the Kangaroos against a powerful Kiwis outfit.
The unavailability of Brett Morris, Josh Morris, Darius Boyd, Brent Tate, Justin Hodges and Billy Slater will see Australia field three debutants in their three-quarter line in their opening Four Nations clash but Wishart was particularly thrilled by the selection of Mansour.
"I'm glad you asked the question because Josh Mansour is a bit of a favourite of mine," said Wishart at the 20-year reunion of the 1994 Kangaroo Tour squad in Brisbane on Thursday.
"I ran into him a little while ago and introduced myself and I just told him to keep going because his rep stuff wouldn't be too far away and to just keep doing the things he was doing.
"I'm so glad he got the call-up and I'm looking forward to catching up with him and shaking his hand and saying, 'Well done mate' and hopefully he has a long career. I'll be watching with plenty of interest.
"He's sort of a similar style to me, he gets in there and he's got a high work-rate, he's strong, gets in at dummy-half and acts as another forward. He's bigger and stronger than me and probably does it better.
"I didn't really know that he'd been at Souths, he'd only really made a name for himself at the Panthers and hats off to the guys at Penrith, they've recognised him and he's made the most of his opportunities and that's the key. When you've got half a chance you've got to make the most of it."
Wishart's roommate on the 1994 Kangaroo Tour was Sharks legend Andrew Ettingshausen, who also backed Mansour, centre Dylan Walker and winger Daniel Tupou to excel in their first appearance in the green and gold.
A veteran of 25 Tests and 27 Origin appearances, Ettingshausen said he has been particularly taken by the displays of 20-year-old Walker for the Rabbitohs over the past two seasons and said that they will draw a great deal of confidence from the players with which they will share the Kangaroos' dressing room.
"What happens is that you look around the dressing room and that's the thing that before the game relaxes you," Ettingshausen told NRL.com.
"You look around and see all the calibre of players standing beside you and then it's very easy to focus on just your job and what you have to do for the team. You don't want to let anybody down, you just want to play the stuff that's got you there and you just want to keep it very basic.
"For [Walker], he's played the big matches this year extremely well and I think he'll carry that in. He's got Greg Inglis at fullback which will no doubt inspire him and make him feel very comfortable in the centre position. I think he'll handle it well, I don't think there'll be any hiccups with him at all.
"You can see with his attitude on the field, very aggressive and very dominant in the way he does things and he's certainly a kid who if mentored well can certainly go through and be a regular player in this side for a long time.
"Both the wingers are fantastic. I think Josh has got enormous ability and for a lot of people they may only have seen him this year but in the years gone by he's been an outstanding player on the way through. He's certainly another guy capable of holding down a position in this team for a long time to come."