Rookie Sydney Roosters prop Dylan Napa will have the opportunity to push for a shock Australian call-up when he returns from suspension in Friday night’s preliminary final against South Sydney at ANZ Stadium.
The unavailability of Paul Gallen, Nate Myles, Andrew Fifita, David Shillington and Trent Merrin and doubts over the fitness of James Tamou has left the Kangaroos with a shortage of frontrowers and selectors are understood to be considering blooding Napa or Canterbury prop David Klemmer in the end-of-season Four Nations tournament.
Napa, who played for Cook Islands at last year’s World Cup, was recalled to the Roosters side for Friday night’s clash after missing the defending premiers’ opening two finals matches due to a two-game suspension for a shoulder charge on Souths captain John Sutton when the teams last met in round 26.
With George and Thomas Burgess expected to be in England’s Four Nations pack, Australian selectors will be keen to see how Napa performs against the giant Rabbitohs pack, which also features rugby union-bound Sam Burgess.
Roosters coach Trent Robinson said after the 21-year-old’s latest indiscretion three weeks ago that he would talk to him about his discipline but it is his refusal to take a backward step and ability to intimidate opponents that may earn him a Kangaroos jersey after just 30 NRL appearances.
Klemmer has even less experience but the size of the 20-year-old frontrower, who is 200cm tall and weighs 120kg, also has him in contention for Australian selection after 25 matches for the Bulldogs.
He will again come off the interchange bench to replace either England prop James Graham or his workaholic frontrow partner Aidan Tolman in Canterbury’s preliminary finals clash with Penrith at ANZ Stadium on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs were the only one of the remaining four teams to name an unchanged line-up on Tuesday, the Roosters, Rabbitohs and Panthers all bolstered by players returning from suspension.
South coach Michael Maguire named Ben Te’o on a seven-man interchange but the Queensland Origin backrower may be promoted to start what will be his last NRL game if the Rabbitohs lose after completing a four-match ban for a chicken wing, while second-rower Adam Docker was included on a six-man bench for Penrith after serving a two-match suspension for a dangerous throw.
Docker is another rookie in the sights of Australian coach Tim Sheens, who may decide to play Brisbane’s Sam Thaiday and Cory Parker up front as he has a host of backrow options at his disposal.
Besides Tamou, North Queensland teammate Matt Scott and Wests Tigers prop Aaron Woods, the other frontrowers in the Kangaroos train-on squad are Willie Mason, Josh Maguire, Brenton Lawrence and Jacob Lillyman.
The only other props in the four teams still involved in the finals who are eligible for Australia are Napa, Klemmer, Tolman, Dave Tyrell, Brent Kite and Nigel Plum.
This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.