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Fifita ready to do Kangaroos jersey proud

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 1/05/2017 Matt Encarnacion and Matt Coughlan

The fight to win back his Australian jersey after three-and-a-half years has given Andrew Fifita's Test comeback added meaning.

Six months after considering leaving the NRL, Fifita will complete a stunning career turnaround when he starts for the Kangaroos in Friday's Test against New Zealand.

Fifita will replace the injured Aaron Woods, ending his Test exile after missing Australia's successful Four Nations campaign last year due to his on-field show of support for one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge.

The 27-year-old said having to force his way back into the side made winning his first Kangaroos jersey since their 2013 World Cup victory even more important.

"I took a massive learning curve from 2013," Fifita said in Canberra on Monday.

"It wasn't just going to come back to me.

"I was at the peak of my game and had to earn the right to get back to where I am today."

Australia captain Cameron Smith knew during Melbourne's loss to Cronulla in last month's grand final "rematch" that Fifita was ready to return to the Kangaroos.

Smith said Fifita, who was eventually fined $20,000 by the NRL and issued a breach notice for wearing a support message for Loveridge on his wrist strapping, had learnt his lesson.

"That would've hurt missing out on that campaign because he played extremely well last year. But he's paid his dues now and playing exceptional football again this season," Smith said.

Smith said he saw a change in Fifita during the Storm's tense loss to the Sharks, when Fifita carried the ball for 130 metres, broke four tackles and offloaded twice.

But it wasn't his numbers that Smith was most impressed by.

"We played against Cronulla this year already and I saw a change in his persona on the field, to be honest. All he was worried about was doing his job for his team and nothing else," he said.

"He wasn't worried about sledging or anything else outside of what he needed to do."

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