Meninga backs Maroons rep bans
New Kangaroos coach Mal Meninga says he is disappointed by the behaviour of a handful of players at a Queensland Emerging Origin camp earlier in the year, and hinted their representative bans could extend to the national team.
Broncos halves pairing Anthony Milford and Ben Hunt headlined a group of eight players who were stood down by Queensland Rugby League for breaching curfew while on camp in Brisbane.
Meninga – the most successful coach in State of Origin history – supported the strong stance shown by his successor, Kevin Walters.
"It's an extremely important program, the Emerging Origin camp, because you get to find out a bit about people, about players, about their characteristics," Meninga told NRL.com.
"It takes a certain sense of character to play representative football, and what they've shown is they're too immature to put on a Maroon or Australian jersey. I'm in favour of what's happened.
"I'd have to consider it (not taking the players on tour). If they're immature or inexperienced to do what they've done, will they be able to handle a tour over five weeks overseas? Are they high maintenance? Are they low maintenance? Can they get through a period of time over there without misbehaving?"
The suspensions couldn't have come at a worse time for the group given next year's World Cup to be played in Australia, New Zealand and Papua New Guinea.
Meninga told NRL.com he was entertaining the idea of bringing an extended squad to the UK ahead of this year's Four Nations tour to see whether the next crop of NRL stars were ready for the international stage.
"I'd like to take a bigger squad so the younger guys can get a bit of experience. Perhaps play some midweek games over there as well if the Rugby Football League would be interested in something like that," Meninga said.
"If that's the case, then we'll be able to showcase a lot of younger kids as well."
Meninga has gone on record saying James Tedesco and Matt Moylan were on his radar for the end-of-season tour, but it was another potential New South Wales debutant whose name was brought up on Wednesday morning.
Jarrod Croker has been one of the most consistent centres in the NRL, and has the added bonus of playing for Meninga's beloved Canberra Raiders.
After impressing NRL All Stars coach Wayne Bennett, Croker will be watched closely by the man who is synonymous with the Green Machine, but it is unlikely he'll be rushed into the green and gold anytime soon.
"Jarrod has been fantastic for the Raiders for a number of years now," the Kangaroos coach said.
"I think the process should be if he's good enough then ask Laurie (NSW coach Laurie Daley). If he plays for NSW and excels at that level, then we'll look at him for the Kangaroos. But I think Jarrod's priority would be with the Raiders at the moment."