Following a standout performance in the World Cup final victory over Samoa, Australia and Penrith Panthers half Nathan Cleary has responded to his critics after regularly coming under fire during the seven-week tournament.
But he was exemplary in the World Cup final, and now has his sights set on another Kangaroos golden era under Meninga's watch.
“I felt I had the best week of preparation and I knew I had to play well and link the team together if we wanted to win,” Cleary told Fox Sports.
“We probably played our best game of the tournament (in the final).
“Mal has always instilled the confidence in me that I could do the job and I'm very grateful for that and glad I could try to help repay the favour.
“I'm 25 and there's a long way to go. I feel like I'm just scratching the surface… It's not every day you get to win a World Cup at Old Trafford.”
Cleary is certainly used to the weight of expectation, having played at every level of the game, and he knows that it will continue to be a constant throughout his career.
“I don't really take too much notice of the outside noise. It's always going to be there,” he said.
“There's always going to be question marks on whether you're doing the right thing or whether you're good enough.
“That's been a cool thing about this group. A lot of (these) people have been through that so we come together and know what's inside the group and what we need to do for each other to get results.
“It's just about trying to be better every day, it's about not focusing too much on what other people are saying, it's putting your best foot forward for the team.”