Meninga calls Sheens 'bluff' on No.1 - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Meninga calls Sheens 'bluff' on No.1

By Laine Clark 07/10/2009 06:48:38 PM Comments (0)

A man who knows Tim Sheens best says the Australian rugby league coach is bluffing when he claims he hasn't decided on who will be the Kangaroos fullback.

After the 24-strong Four Nations squad was unveiled on Wednesday, Sheens kept an open mind when quizzed on league's hottest topic - who will be Australia's No.1, Billy Slater or Jarryd Hayne?

But Mal Meninga - who has remained close to Sheens since their halcyon years at the Canberra Raiders in the late 1980s early `90s - reckoned the Australian coach was pulling everyone's leg.

"Knowing Sheensy, there was a bit of cloak and dagger stuff there," Meninga laughed.

"Billy Slater will play fullback no matter what Sheensy says.

"And Jarryd Hayne will be on the wing. Both will be playing in the footy side."

Sheens has tried to keep everyone guessing on the fullback role despite Slater appearing to leapfrog Dally M Medallist Hayne for the opening clash against the Kiwis at Twickenham Stoop Stadium on October 24.

"I think there will be a spot for both of them, but exactly where we play them and how we play them is something that I will work on," Sheens said.

Slater looked to have eclipsed Hayne for the No.1 jersey by claiming the Clive Churchill Medal for man of the match in Melbourne's NRL grand final win over Hayne's Eels on Sunday.

Adding credibility to Meninga's calls, the Queensland Origin coach also accurately predicted the Kangaroos squad's Four Nations bolter when asked hours before the 24 names were officially unveiled on Wednesday.

"Maybe someone like Dave Shillington in the front row, aside from that it will be pretty cut and dried," Meninga told AAP.

Shillington was duly named as one of seven rookies in the Kangaroos squad by Sheens on Wednesday.

Meninga had hoped that Shillington and other fringe Queenslanders would be rewarded for their Origin heroics when the national selectors convened.

The Maroons clinched a record fourth straight series in 2009.

"I had been hoping that they were sitting around the selection table and the Origin series was not in the back of their minds, that it was in the front of their minds," Meninga said.

"The Queensland players deserved some sort of preference.

"Certainly finals football is a bonus.

"But I have just come back from PNG and guys like Shillington who played for the Prime Minister's XIII they were not lacking any match fitness at all."

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