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Meninga must drop Papalii to avoid being a massive hypocrite

Sporting News logo Sporting News 28/04/2017

© Sporting News Wearing the green and gold jersey means you need to be a good 'ambassador' and 'role model' for the game, according to Australian coach Mal Meninga.

It's the main reason Cronulla grand final hero Andrew Fifita wasn't selected for last year's Four Nations tournament, and it's enough rationale to cut Josh Papalii from the Kangaroos side for next week's Anzac Test.

The Canberra back-rower was fined $1000 and disqualified from driving for eight months over a drink-driving incident in January where he strangely called the police on himself.

In 2013, New South Wales prop James Tamou got caught up in a similar incident and was banned from State of Origin and fined $20,000.

Fifita wasn't allowed to represent the Kangaroos for his public support of one-punch killer Kieran Loveridge and is still struggling to get back into the side, even after Meninga lifted his ban.

“We have drawn a line in the sand around behaviour,” Meninga said of Fifita's snub before the Four Nations in 2016.

“He (Fifita) is one of the best front-rowers in the game, no doubt about it — but there’s more to playing for Australian than just ability.

“I believe, in all honesty, that the Kangaroo jersey should be held in high esteem and that all the players should be great role models, not only on the field but off it as well.''

Papalii is in the same boat as Fifita and Tamou and if Meninga is a man of his word, the 24-year-old should be stripped of the honour to represent his country.

Meninga is waiting on a response from the NRL integrity unit and Raiders before he makes a decision.

"We'll make sure that we back up whatever decisions they make and if you talk about precedents, Josh will more than likely have some sort of sanction against him," he told The Big Sports Breakfast today.

"So we'll follow those procedures."

His words are clear, let's see if his actions follow.

"I'm big on behaviour on and off the field," Meninga said.

"You put the green and gold jersey on and you're telling me that you want to be an ambassador or great role model for the game.

"That's where I sit from a personal point of view. I've just got to wait and see what the formal situation is."

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