You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Boyd set to pip Slater for Kangaroos spot

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 30/03/2017 Matt Coughlan

Darius Boyd can breathe a little easier about his Kangaroos No.1 jersey with Australian coach Mal Meninga likely to favour the Brisbane fullback over a resurgent Billy Slater for the Anzac Test.

Slater has made an impressive NRL return for Melbourne, raising hopes he could force his way back into the Kangaroos' starting line-up for the one-off match against New Zealand on May 5 in Canberra.

But Meninga wants the 33-year-old Storm star to make a smooth transition back to first-grade action before handing him his first Test cap since 2014.

"It's up in the air but my immediate reaction is that Darius probably deserves to stay there for the time being and Billy finds his feet in the National Rugby League," Meninga told AAP.

"My view is that he needs to play a bit more footy but he's always in the picture - he's such a great player."

Meninga said Boyd's match-winning performances in last year's Four Nations would make it hard for Slater to take back his No.1 Test jersey.

"I'm a bit of a loyalist," he said.

"The players that did so well in the Four Nations, in my opinion, hold precedence at this stage above other guys coming into the squad."

A season-ending injury to Test centre Greg Inglis has given a number of players the chance to press for a Kangaroos starting spot, with Meninga nominating five who have put themselves in contention to replace the South Sydney back.

"Jarrod Croker is obviously in the picture," Meninga said.

"Will Chambers has played left centre before at Origin level which is big. Justin O'Neill played left centre in Greg's absence in the Four Nations and we've also got Michael Jennings who is playing well.

"Josh Morris is a left centre so there's some talent there."

With Test prop Matt Scott also ruled out for the year, it creates another selection headache for the Kangaroos.

Canterbury forward David Klemmer's work off the bench at the Four Nations impressed Meninga, putting him in the frame to replace Scott, along with Canberra wrecking ball Shannon Boyd.

"I thought David didn't let the Kangaroos down all year last year," Meninga said.

"He's definitely in calculations; Shannon Boyd is definitely in calculations."

Meninga also hinted Dylan Napa's State of Origin debut could lead to higher honours.

"Dylan Napa will play for Queensland - I'll stake my house on that," Meninga said.

"You can't replace people of Greg and Matt's ability, status and leadership in the team but there's some great quality players that can fill their spots," Meninga said.

A Raiders legend with a stand at GIO Stadium named in his honour, Meninga is relishing the chance to coach the Kangaroos on home turf.

"Coaching such legendary players - Cameron Smith is playing his 50th, John Thurston's last year in rep footy - it's great to be part of all of it," he said.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon